UPDATE, SEPT. 7, 5:11 P.M.: According to a Orange County coroner's report, Russ Yamada died of a heart attack on Saturday afternoon, reports NBC Los Angeles. The 42-year-old Torrance resident had been surfing at a surf break called Old Man's in San Onofre State Park for over an hour when his body was discovered. Waves reached eight-feet that day at San Onofre, and bigger in other locations.
UPDATE, SEPT. 6, 1:41 P.M.: Amongst the red flag wave conditions slamming the Southern California coastline during Labor Day weekend, a Torrance surfer was found unresponsive near his surfboard at San Onofre State Beach on Saturday. Russ Yamada, 42, was rushed to Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in San Clemente, but was declared dead an hour after being pulled from the water, according to numerous media outlets.
In an interview with Contra Costa Times, Yamada's sister-in-law said there was a bruise on the surfer's head when he was found. She indicated to the reporter that Yamada was an experienced surfer and strong swimmer.
ORIGINAL POST, SEPT. 1, 4:16 P.M.: The Weekly advises you to stay out of the water. If you've ventured anywhere near the coastline in the past 24 hours you have witnessed the power of Poseidon. Walls of water, measuring from six-feet up to 20-feet are plowing toward land, washing out parking lots and putting anyone in their way at risk.
This is the same swell that put a surf contest in Tahiti on hold. It was considered too big and dangerous for the world's best surfers, so it's safe to assume that it remains unsafe to 99 percent of the public (Greg and Rusty Long, Nathan Fletcher, Chuck Patterson and Corky Crandal's crew are probably safe to do as they please out in the ocean).
According to forecasts from Surfline, the swell, which began as a hurricane off the coast of New Zealand, is expected to increase through the rest of today and max-out tomorrow morning. The best exposed breaks are seeing or will see waves that are two- to three-times overhead, maybe even more.
If you have time to take a drive down Pacific Coast Highway, you'll see the results of the swell already. At Aliso Beach, during high tide this morning, the waves washed water into the parking lot, flooding the lot and forcing police to close access. At El Morro Beach, the public pathway under the highway has flooded. At Oak Street in Laguna Beach, surfers were sitting near a rock 150 yards off the coast, waiting for swells to break on an outside reef that only breaks during the largest of swells. And the Wedge in Newport Beach, well, it's every bit the spectacle that you'd imagine.
This is, indeed, the swell of the summer. Be smart on this one and just stay dry unless your ability and comfort-level in the ocean is advanced. Check back later for photographic evidence of the day's events.