Huge surf swells have returned to Santa Barbara after only a two month layoff, with predictions the waves will be reaching at least 18 feet in some locations on the South Coast. Surfers and observers throughout the 805 both made their way to the Pacific Sunday to check out the growing wave sizes, and rumblings of skipping out on work, or getting up early to surf before it, were making their way throughout the city.
The National Weather Service has issued a high surf advisory for the South Coast, effective until early Tuesday morning, while emergency responders had a busy day helping those who ventured into the water to take on the huge swells.
The Harbor Patrol had to rescue about 20 surfers who were trapped in the ocean or were too tired to swim, but no significant injuries were reported by city staff. At about 3 p.m., several pedestrians walking along the breakwater sidewalk near the harbor were slammed through a railing, according to a city news release, and sent across rocks on the harbor side of the breakwater and into the water. All were rescued by bystanders and three victims were taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital for injuries. The breakwater sidewalk was closed at about 3:30 p.m. Stearns Wharf was closed to vehicle and pedestrian traffic for the night beginning at about 4 p.m. Sunday after water from the large swells began pushing up through deck planks on the wharf. One of the wharf’s sewer systems was also damaged by the waves. High tide was expected to hit at 11 p.m. tonight, when waterfront staff and emergency responders were anticipating the potential of more damage.