Surfers Try, Fail to Ride Tonga Tsunami in California; 2 Rescued at Sea

Surfers Try, Fail to Ride Tonga Tsunami in California; 2 Rescued at Sea

The San Francisco Fire Department rescued two surfers Saturday who had defied warnings and dared to ride a small but deadly incoming tsunami wave generated by the eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano in the South Pacific.

1.14.2022: (correction on date) Large volcanic eruption near Tonga (Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano) today as seen from outer space. Shown on visible imagery using the Himawari satellite.

— NWSHonolulu (@NWSHonolulu) January 15, 2022

As the New York Timesnoted:

An underwater volcano erupted on Saturday near the remote Pacific nation of Tonga, triggering tsunami warnings across the Pacific and for the West Coast of the United States, and causing strong waves and currents in many coastal areas.

A four-foot tsunami wave was reported to have hit Tonga’s capital, Nuku’alofa, sending people rushing to higher ground, and witnesses said ash had fallen from the sky. There were no immediate official reports on the extent of injuries or damages, but internet service in the country was disrupted, according to The Associated Press, making it difficult to assess.

In the United States, officials urged residents of coastal areas in much of the West Coast, Alaska and Hawaii to stay away from the coastline and move to higher ground. The National Weather Service in Portland, Ore., reported possible one- to three-foot waves in some areas of Oregon and Washington. “First wave may not be the highest,” and later waves may “be larger,” the agency said on Twitter.

Beaches were closed up and down the West Coast, and the tsunami arrived on Saturday morning. The damage was minimal, though some beaches and harbors suffered minor flooding.

WATCH: Tsunami causes flooding at the Santa Cruz Harbor in California

— BNO News (@BNONews) January 15, 2022

Though the surge was small — about one foot in many places — the conditions were rough, and proved too rough for two San Francisco surfers.

The Los Angeles Times reported:

Though most heeded the warnings, some surfers, anglers and beachgoers ignored them — prompting emergency rescues in dangerous waters from teams of fire department swimmers.

At one popular beach in San Francisco, rescue swimmers braved churning waves and strong currents on Saturday afternoon to save two surfers who had challenged nature to a duel — and lost.

Members of a San Francisco Fire Department patrol spotted a surfer about 300 yards off the coast waving his hands and calling for help about 3 p.m., said Lt. Jonathan Baxter, a spokesman for the department. Rescue swimmers swam out to help him, but the conditions were so bad that they determined it was safer to take him to a private sailboat nearby instead of carrying him back to dry land.

One surfer was rescued in Ocean Beach after his surfboard snapped in half about 200 yards from the shoreline. The effort required the assistance of a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter, a rescue boat and San Francisco Fire Department rescue swimmers, Baxter said.

They were not the only surfers to brave the conditions. One surfer told the San Francisco Chronicle that the waves were the “some of the biggest of the year” and that he did not want to miss the opportunity.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.
Photo: file

Joel B. Pollak