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

Ucluelet’s Royal Marine Search and Rescue team seeking new recruits

“We’re on call for anything and everything on the water.”

Five rescued after boat crashes between Tofino and Ahousaht

“Ahousaht has always been a willing participant to save anyone who is in distress in our territory.”

Search continues for missing Tofino dog allegedly taken by tourists

Shannon Boothman fears Itska has been taken off Vancouver Island after sighting at Nanaimo ferry.

Northbound lanes re-open along Malahat after small rockslide near Goldstream

Drivers asked to use caution, clean-up crews have finished on-site

Fines bring an end to Tofino’s controversial Poole’s Land community

Michael Poole is selling the roughly 20-acre property.

Cold, stormy winter forecast across much of Canada, The Weather Network predicts

In British Columbia temperatures will be slightly above normal and precipitation will be just below normal

Trans Mountain received $320M in government subsidies in first half 2019: report

The money included $135.8 million in direct subsidies and $183.8 million in indirect subsidies

Ottawa urges CN and union to continue talks as 3,200 workers go on strike

The rail workers began their strike after failing to reach a deal by a midnight deadline

Student tells B.C. Supreme Court she wasn’t allowed to leave indigenous smudging ceremony

Girl cross-examined Monday in Nanaimo courtroom, case continues Tuesday

UPDATED: Vancouver Island’s Joe gets suspended sentence in Teddy the dog cruelty case

Melissa Tooshley expected in court on Thursday in same case

Nineteen boats carrying invasive mussels stopped at B.C. borders

Waters of Columbia-Shuswap still test mussel-free

Woman ‘horrified’ after being told to trek 200 kilometres home from Kamloops hospital

‘I can’t get from Kamloops back to 100 Mile House injured, confused… no shoes, no clothes whatsoever’

Sentencing scheduled Tuesday for man who killed Belgian tourist

Sean McKenzie pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of 28-year-old Amelie Sakkalis near Boston Bar

Canadian universities encourage exchange students in Hong Kong to head home

UBC said 11 of its 32 students completing programs in Hong Kong have already left

Most Read