To most people, hurricanes equal a good reason to be equipped with disaster insurance. The potential of flooding, strong winds, and power outages can be frightening enough to evacuate in some cases. Families may worry about the stability of their homes in the midst of a hurricane, particularly after terrors like Hurricane Katrina left so many homeless in Louisiana. However, for a surfer, a hurricane is an opportunity to ride some of the most epic waves possible. Some surfers take advantage of the swell left over from hurricanes touching down on other parts of the United States and adjacent countries. The residual tide can make for excellent, albeit dangerous conditions, even if it means that a hurricane is devastating to another part of the continent. Some surfers even seize the opportunity to ride these waves in the middle of the storm.
Biggest Teahupoo Ever
While not filmed during a hurricane, the size of the waves are enough to make a hurricane surfer’s knees buckle. This film, shot by cinematographer Chris Bryan, features surfers risking their lives to surf epically proportioned waves in Tahiti. The video footage was shot on August 27, 2011 during a double code red warning. On this particular day, the French Navy threatened to arrest anyone who entered the water — the waves were that dangerous. Paired with a climactic soundtrack, the waves in the video are both majestic and absolutely terrifying. The result is a breathtaking expose of a sport that relishes the fierce conditions produced by tumultuous weather.
Perhaps the best example of a foolish surfer riding the enormous waves of a hurricane, this video shows a man surfing while the actual storm is raging around him. The video starts with an onlooker filming the flooding of the waves into a neighborhood street when he spots a man out in the water. The man is surfing a huge wave when suddenly the wall of water engulfs him. The person filming is flabbergasted, thinking the surfer has been completely pulled under, when the man actually emerges from the other end of the wave untouched. It is a miraculous video; the man is lucky to be alive. Some uploads of the video show it in tandem with a Gatorade ad campaign, so it may have been staged or snatched up after it went viral.
Hurricane Surfing in HD
A group of surfers ride the violent waves in Palm Beach, Florida. Although the hurricane isn’t specified, the video was uploaded in 2008. This was a relatively active hurricane season for Florida, with Hurricane Fay, Gustav, Dolly, Cristobal, and Hanna all effecting Florida in some way. Hurricane Fay touched down four separate times. Hurricane Gustav was the deadliest, claiming four fatalities. Surfing in the wake or prior to these hurricanes would be a dangerous game.
Epic Florida Surf — Hurricane Irene HD
Right before Hurricane Irene struck the Florida coast, a crew of surfers took advantage of the large waves in an area called Reef Road. Hurricane Irene reached a category 3 hurricane. Others that risked surfing in the midst of Irene’s wake were not as lucky — two people reportedly died while trying to surf during this time. The swells were very rough and could easily pull people under. In several places throughout the video, the surfers are so close together in the waves that you fear one will accidentally surf over another.
Hurricane Katrina Re-visited
This video compilation shows various surfers on the Florida panhandle in Hurricane Katrina’s wake. It was filmed on August 28, 2005, which is the day that Katrina reached its peak strength. It was, at this time, a category 5 hurricane and the Gulf of Mexico’s strongest recorded hurricane of all time until it was surpassed by Rita in the following months. In the panhandle where this was shot, the storm’s surge caused five-foot waves. This was nothing compared to the 15-foot storm surge in Louisiana, where Katrina’s impact was the largest, but surfing in the wake of this hurricane was risky nonetheless.
Hurricane Ike, Florida Panhandle Surfing
Once again, surfers convened on the Florida panhandle to surf the residual waves of a hurricane. In this case, the Hurricane in question was Ike, a category 4 hurricane that struck in 2008. The video was posted about a month after the hurricane’s dissipation. Ike caused flooding and other damage along the Florida panhandle. Altogether, it caused more than 195 fatalities. Some areas that hadn’t completely recovered from Hurricane Gustav were once again devastated.
Surfing Hurricane Katia
This video catalogs a day of surfing in Satellite Beach, Florida. It was filmed on September 8, 2011. From sunrise to nightfall, surfers glide along the brutal waves shed from Hurricane Katia. Days prior on September 5, Katia surmounted the strength of a category 4 hurricane and it didn’t fully dissipate until September 10. Katia was of main concern to Europe and did not touch down on Florida. However, although far away from the actual disaster, rip currents in Florida from Katia were deadly.
Bill — The Hurricane Swell
In this YouTube clip, Hurricane Bill’s swell inspires some surfers on the Outer Banks of North Carolina to take on the waves. The 2009 hurricane struck in mid-August. It reached category 4 status at its peak on August 19th. North Carolina’s beaches got the brunt of the storm in the United States. Waves averaged 10 feet off the coast of North Carolina where this was filmed. The large waves resulting from the hurricane were the extent of Bill’s fury in the United States, as it did not make landfall.
Hurricane Igor Surfing — Emerald Isle, NC
This video shows footage of surfers along Bouge Inlet Pier while Hurricane Igor was going on. Shot between September 18th and 19th, Igor was on its way to Bermuda at the time as it weakened from a category 4 hurricane to a minimal category 1 hurricane. However, it’s large swells did move across the East Coast of the United States. In Surf City, North Carolina, a surfer died in the rip currents. At that point, the waves were estimated to be between five and seven feet tall. The National Weather Service had issued a high surf advisory on the Sunday this was shot.
WCF Florida Gulf Surf — Hurricane Rita ’05
Filmed September 22, 2005, surfers on the Florida coast ride Rita’s swells. This was only a day after Rita reached category 5 status. Rita made landfall in Texas and Louisiana. In Florida, where this was filmed, Rita resulted in a storm surge of five-foot waves that flooded at least 200 Key West homes. Deadly rip currents also gave way to one fatality in Florida off of Miramar beach.