A significant class swell hit the California coast over the weekend. Northern California caught the brunt of the action with triple overhead wave heights at standout spots. Unfortunately prohibitive conditions presented themselves at most spots north of Point Conception as onshore winds and gusts whipped the ocean into a frenzy. Southern California saw surf in the 6-to-12 foot range with “on again, off again” agitated ocean surface conditions. The accompanying storm moved rather slowly, and at times seemed to stall altogether. Even as darkened skies gathered, reports of glassy and rideable conditions filtered through this reporters email and cell messages.

Click here to view insane images of Ghost Tree from the winter swell.

The swell started showing on Friday pushing solid and powerful waves toward the northern coast of California. The San Francisco region was raw, monstrous, and unrideable. Further south, near Santa Cruz and the Monterey peninsula, pockets of shelter provided somewhat rideable surf if you knew where to look. On Sunday morning the Santa Cruz region saw lumpy, high tide surf in the 8’+ range and variable freshening winds that never completely righted themselves. Nonetheless, as Sunday morning wore into Sunday afternoon, low tide and kelp helped many spots clean up quickly.

Unfortunately the storm wreaked havoc on land as well. About 280,000 homes and businesses from the San Francisco Bay area to the Central Valley were without power Saturday, down from more than 1.6 million Friday, according to Pacific Gas & Electric and other regional utility providers. Some residents in remote coastal and mountain areas could be without power for several more days, said PG&E spokesman David Eisenhauer.

Southern California experienced relatively smaller surf and on Saturday (4-6’+), but as the tail section of the storm moved through the coastal region, pockets of time which offered clean conditions appeared from Rincon to Ventura to Malibu to San Diego. Surfers that could act quickly found themselves in semi-glassy, albeit disorganized surf ranging anywhere from six-to-10 feet. Sunday was more of the same for SoCal surfers, and like it’s northern counter part, select locations got better and better all day on Sunday.

Overall surf forecasters poo-poo’d this swell event due to the accompanying weather. But the bad conditions weren’t really that bad. This swell provided plenty of punch and action if you were on top of it. While many wrote the weekend off and watched football, others scored touchdowns of their own. I hope you were one of them.