Waves pose risk despite summery feel at Sonoma Coast

  • At Salmon Creek Beach in the the Sonoma Coast State Park north of Bodega Bay, a surfer launches off the top of the high surf, Friday Dec. 27, 2013. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

Lounging on a blanket at North Salmon Creek Beach on Friday, Ryan Bradford and Rosalie Simonitch sipped pinot noir and noshed on Humboldt Fog cheese while they watched surfers brave giant waves.

"Somebody's gotta do it," Bradford, of Santa Rosa, said with a grin.

Friday was a preview of what is expected to be an epic weekend at the Sonoma Coast, with the forecast calling for sunshine and high temperatures in the low 60s, which would be several degrees warmer than the average temperature for Santa Rosa this time of year.

Throw in relatively calm winds and the sight and sound of big waves crashing on the beach, and the coast could be the ideal getaway on the final weekend of 2013.

"We were surprised how comfortable it is," said Simonitch, who required only a hooded sweatshirt to keep her warm.

Friday proved that winter often is the ideal time to visit the Sonoma Coast, since usually there's less fog and smaller crowds.

The easterly winds prove warming because "the air conditioner (meaning the ocean) is on the other side," said Diana Henderson, a forecaster with the National Weather Service.

She said the pleasant conditions at the coast should stick around for another week.

Steve Aijala of Sonoma took advantage of an unexpected day off Friday to bring his camera gear to the coast, where every angle offered stunning visual beauty.

"It's just raw," he said.

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