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)

Just Posted

‘ALR golf courses should return to farming,’ says ex-ALC chair Frank Leonard

Former mayor says Saanich could appeal Cedar Hill Golf Course application

Is Steve Nash Vancouver Island’s best athlete of all-time?

As Captain Canada gets ready to enter basketball’s Hall of Fame it’s time to debate his legacy

Who is Vancouver Island’s greatest athlete ever?

We want to know, you get to choose in a 64-athlete tournament bracket

Saanich taking heat over process surrounding Haro Woods

District delays decision on the future of cycling in popular Saanich park

UPDATE: VicPD defend decision not to warn public after initial attack

String of assaults downtown Wednesday night left several people with serious injuries

VIDEO: Grand Forks shores up defences as floodwaters rise to peak levels

Canadian Forces, volunteers working to protect low-lying areas

UPDATE: Blood found in missing man’s vehicle

Searchers are sticking to a high-priority area before expanding their search for Ben Kilmer

B.C. Lions bring back 6-time all-star offensive lineman Jovan Olafioye

He was acquired by the Montreal Alouettes last year.

Whitecaps rally for 2-2 draw with FC Dallas

Vancouver climbed out of a two-nil hole to tie FC Dallas 2-2

B.C. VIEWS: Making sense of climate policy

Flood and fire predictions have poor track record so far

Chilliwack Chiefs moving on to RBC Cup final after thrilling win over Ottawa

Kaden Pickering scored the winning goal in the 3rd period as Chilliwack won their semi-final 3-2.

VIDEO: As floodwaters recede, crews assess the damage to Grand Forks’ downtown

More than four dozen firefighters and building inspectors came out to help

Royal Oak loses Canada Post outlet

Potal outlet in Country Grocer closed after nearly two decades, service handled by other locations

Wellington Dukes pull off epic upset of Wenatchee at RBC Cup

The Dukes are off to the championship game after downing the Wild 2-1 Saturday at Prospera Centre.

Most Read