Brigitte Rudan and her toddler, Alexander, caught the monster wave storm from a safe viewing area established on the Wild Pacific Trail. (Nora O’Malley / Westerly News)

Tofino and Ucluelet wowed by biggest waves in a decade

“Even in pictures you show the kids and that, unless you’re witnessing it live, it’s like no other.”

Some locals say it’s been almost a decade since they’ve witnessed waves of such grandeur.

For the majority, Thursday’s “black swell” that closed public access to Ucluelet and Tofino beaches and had surf forecast sites projecting over 30-feet waves, was a first time in a lifetime.

Jim and Jill Wilkin, visitors from Sherwood Park, Alberta, said in the 20 years they’ve been coming to the Coast, they’ve never seen a storm like that.

“I don’ think you can describe it adequately,” Jim told the Westerly News from the safe viewing area established at Amphitrite Point.

“Even in pictures you show the kids and that, unless you’re witnessing it live, it’s like no other,” said Jill.

“Unless you come out and experience it, the sounds, even lying in bed when it first started, the sounds are something we’ve never experienced. The force of nature is beyond your comprehension unless you actually come here and see it,” she said.

Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne Instagrammed an unusual find she came across after walking the high tide line after the storm.

“We rarely see the tombolo out to Frank Island so flat, so clean, and so devoid of detritus,” she wrote. “The storm removed a lot of sand from middle Chesterman Beach and unveiled another stump from the World War Two era when the beach was lined with tall posts to prevent enemy planes from landing.”

Longtime Ucluelet local Mark Fortune said he noticed surge channels flooding right onto parts of the Wild Pacific Trail as he walked his dog early in the morning.

“It’s pretty spectacular. It gives you a real appreciation of the power of the ocean,” he said.

Fortune, who is the Deputy Fire Chief for the Ucluelet Volunteer Fire Brigade, said he thought the District was being proactive for closing off a lot of the trail for public safety.

“A lot of people don’t realize just looking out they see one wave, you know the rocks look clear in front of us here, but five minutes ago this whole area was just awash with ocean water.”

“You have to read the terrain the rocks. Never turn your back on the ocean and never put yourself in a spot of jeopardy. Once again, you’re witnessing a lot of raw power and it’s impressive when viewed from a safe distance,” he said.

Parks Canada issued an Extreme Wave Hazard advisory for the Pacific Rim region for Jan. 18 to Jan. 20. In an informal conversation with a Parks Canada staffer and a member of the West Coast Inland Search and Rescue team, the Westerly was informed that no rescues were reported during the storm. However, several visitors had “close calls” with the high tide and got their pant legs and socks drenched.

Folks heading out to do some storm watching are reminded to respect the ocean and be CoastSmart, by staying above the high tide and off rocks and logs.

Roy Wilmin and Silva Johansson were giddy as school kids to see waves as big as buildings smash into the rocks by Amphitrite Point. (Nora O’Malley / Westerly News)

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Journey Middle School students try out the trades

Program is designed to expose students to career options

Camosun student shares story of overcoming struggles to inspire others

Provincial Tuition Waiver Program helps former youths in care attend post-secondary institutions

Local Monarchist says Saanich Peninsula would be a ‘great place’ for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Bruce Hallsor also expects the couple’s professional opportunities to lie outside Greater Victoria

Officials reaching out to those in contact with Canada’s first coronavirus patient

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China

‘Devastated’: Fans, celebrities remember Kobe Bryant after his death

Bryant played all of his 20-year career with the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers

Investigation launched after six dead puppies dumped in Richmond hotel parking lot

RAPS reminds people they can always give up puppies they can’t take care of

Canadian Lunar New Year celebrations dampened by coronavirus worries

But Health Minister Patty Hajdu said today that the risk of infection is low

B.C. VIEWS: New coronavirus outbreak an important reminder

Walking the line between cautious and alarmist

Kobe Bryant, daughter killed in California helicopter crash

Bryant entered the NBA draft straight out of high school in 1996

Risk of coronavirus low in B.C. as first case emerges in Toronto: officials

There have been no confirmed cases of the virus in B.C.

‘Presumptive case’ of coronavirus in Canada confirmed by Ontario doctors

Man in his 50s felt ill on his return to Canada from Wuhan, China

Most Read