The storms that have rolled across Southern California this month brought heavy rain, high winds, and big surf.
At Scripps Oceanography, that resulted in spectacular waves crashing against the pillars of Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier, as seen in this photograph taken Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017, by graduate student Yassir Eddebbar as he and two colleagues were heading out to surf.
The daily maximum wave height at the pier typically ranges from .5 to two meters (1.5 to 5 feet), but over the weekend it reached 3.35 meters (10.9 feet) from crest to trough, with winds peaking at up to 22 meters per second (or 49 mph), according to Scripps' Coastal Data Information Program.
"We haven’t seen this combination of large swell and off-shore winds in a long time, definitely a once-a-year occasion," said Eddebbar, who researches interactions between climate and ocean biogeochemical dynamics.
That's more than enough to stop the pier's normal small boat operations, which are normally limited to swells of less than one to 1.5 meters (3.3 to five feet), according to pier manager Christian McDonald. But activities on top of the pier have only been halted once in recent years, during one of last year's heavy storms.
Completed in 1988, the current 1,084-foot-long Scripps Pier is used for launching small research boats beyond the surfline, serves as a platform for a variety of scientific instruments and experiments, and pumps fresh seawater to the campus for use in laboratories and Birch Aquarium at Scripps. The reinforced concrete pier replaced an earlier structure which had been in place since 1918.
Farther north along the California coast, CDIP's Monterey Bay West buoy hit an all-time high of 35 feet on Sunday.
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