Rogue wave in Ventura sends eight people to hospital, California

A rogue wave crashed into a seawall in California’s Ventura County on Thursday, December 28, 2023, causing significant damage and sending 8 people to hospital.

Forecasters had sounded the alarm for an “exceptionally dangerous” wave event along the California coast, a phenomenon not witnessed in many years. Amid this warning, the community of Ventura was struck by a dramatic illustration of these dangers when a rogue wave hit the beach at the end of Seward Avenue in the City of Ventura during a high surf advisory at high tide.

The incident caused significant coastal damage, sweeping up a truck and several people, and leading to eight individuals being hospitalized.

Ventura County Fire Department captured and shared the harrowing moment, urging the community to avoid ocean areas due to the unpredictable conditions:

The National Weather Service has indicated that coastlines from Southern to Central California are at extreme risk of dangerous surf, life-threatening rip currents, and coastal flooding through the weekend. With powerful cyclones over the northern Pacific waters propelling long-period swells toward Southern California, reported outer water swell heights range from 6 – 8 m (20 – 27 feet).

The most intense waves are expected along the central coast, with forecasts predicting heights between 4.5 and 6 m (15- 20 feet) through Saturday, December 30. Ventura County itself could witness waves between 3 and 4.5 m (10 – 15 feet), while Santa Barbara and Los Angeles County might see 2 – 3.5 m (7 to 12 feet) waves, occasionally peaking at 4.5 to 6 m (15 to 20 feet).

The National Weather Service emphasizes this high-surf and coastal flooding event’s exceptionality and rarity, urging the public to adhere to the directions of local authorities and lifeguards. People in these areas are advised to stay out of the water, prepare for significant flooding, and avoid rocky or jetty areas close to the water. Additionally, they warn of sneaker waves and the importance of never turning one’s back on the ocean due to the erratic and unpredictable nature of such conditions.

Northern California is also preparing for intense waves, with the San Francisco office of the National Weather Service issuing a coastal flood advisory and a high surf warning.

Predicted waves in this region are expected to break between 8 and 10 m (28 and 33 feet), posing a significant risk to those near the coast. The agency stresses the dangers of large waves which can suddenly sweep over beaches, pulling people into the sea from rocks, jetties, and beaches.


1 See the massive rogue wave that crashed into Ventura, California, sending 8 people to the hospital – CBS – December 29, 2023

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