Powerful surf pounds Sonoma Coast

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Large, powerful waves pounded Sonoma County beaches on Monday as a large swell train arrived on the Northern California coast.

The waves, reaching 20-25 feet high, led the National Weather Service to issue a high surf warning Sunday and Monday, downgraded to a high surf advisory Monday night.

The high surf advisory is expected to remain in place throughout the week, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Ryan Walbrun, who said a swell set coming in mid-week will keep waves in the 15-20 foot range for at least several more days.

The already high surf combined with heavy rain led to minor flooding in the Jenner area Sunday night, but the blocked mouth of the Russian River broke open during the night on its own, allowing high river levels to drop and averting any serious damage, according to a Sonoma County Water Agency spokeswoman.

Heavy weekend rains and a closed river mouth pushed river levels to about 11 feet in the area, which is two feet over the point the Jenner visitor center parking lot begins to flood and could lead to a low spot on Highway 1 going under water. Officials Sunday warned of the possibility of area flooding.

Don May, who works at the Jenner Sea Store, sent an email alerting business owners in the area that the parking lot had flooded halfway to the Jenner Visitors Center, he said. But he went back to check on the water level at 1:30 a.m. Monday, and found the water had all drained out.

“As it turns out, there were no problems at all,” May said.

The river mouth broke open about 9:30 p.m. Sunday, said Ann Dubay, spokeswoman for the Sonoma County Water Agency. Water levels Monday morning were down to six feet.

The Russian River meets the ocean at Jenner, where the estuary closed Friday when rain and large swells created a natural barrier at the river’s mouth. Water levels along the river then rose more than a foot in five hours.

Monte Rio Fire Chief Steve Baxman drove to the Jenner area early Monday to check the situation. He said the river was lower Monday than Sunday due to the self‑breaching and there were no issues from the temporary high water.

Elsewhere the weekend storm led to some falling trees, but fire officials reported no serious problems in the county. A few power lines broke and hit vegetation, but due to the rain, the result was smoke, not flames, officials said.

You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 707‑521-5412 or On Twitter @rossmannreport. You can reach Staff Writer Andrew Beale at 707-521-5205 or On Twitter @iambeale.

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