Surfing, Tubing, and Kayaking in the Midst of Hellastorm

Angelo DeSantis
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Hellastorm, the Bay Area Storm, the Pineapple Express (thus nicknamed because of its origins in Hawaii)—whatever you may call it, the nasty weather system that dumped up to six inches of rain on the Bay Area and beyond last week was one to remember. In San Francisco, businesses and homes were flooded, schools were closed and the city hunkered down under the most severe storm to hit the area in five years. It was even worse in the North Bay, where the Russian River hit peak levels, wreaking havoc on many wine country towns.

But it wasn’t all bad—just ask the hardy souls who used the storm (and perhaps a day off work) as an excuse to get out there and enjoy Mother Nature. Here, our favorite examples of NorCal adventurers getting after it by getting out in it.

Surfing on Lake Tahoe

Catching some waves at Lake Tahoe.
Catching some waves at Lake Tahoe. Tristan Roberts

Some of the most  viral video footage  that’s made the rounds from the storm was of wetsuit-clad surfers catching some respectable waves—on Lake Tahoe.

Lake Tahoe-based realtor and outdoor enthusiast Tristan Roberts, one of the locals who shot the action, said that winter surfing on the alpine lake is nothing new, but the wind and waves kicked up by the storm made for the biggest waves he’s seen since he moved to the area in 1995. He shot his video, which made it into several local media reports, at Agate Bay, in North Lake Tahoe, and said there were maybe a dozen surfers catching waves within a mile or so on the lake, with wind gusts up to 70 miles per hour.

“You don’t want to be an idiot and you don’t want to get hurt or anything, but this kind of stuff is unique, and you want to take advantage of seeing it,” Roberts said. “To be in moments like that is pretty fun.”

Inner Tubing at a Bay Area Brewery

Tubes and brews made the storm at Lagunitas.
Tubes and brews made the storm at Lagunitas. Lagunitas Brewery

One of the most beloved breweries in the Bay Area, Lagunitas , was forced to cancel brewery tours and close its popular Petaluma taproom last week, as up to two feet of water began making its way inside. But that didn’t stop one employee (we presume?) from grabbing a bottle o’ suds and hopping into an inner tube to enjoy the action. Her peace sign says it all in the above photo, which the brewery posted to its Instagram feed to the delight of its followers. In addition, Lagunitas, which is known for its clever monikers, may name a beer after the storm, according to a local news report . Plus, it's back to the business of beer as usual at the brewery.

To all of which we say, cheers.

Kayaking in a Grocery Store Parking Lot

Being in a kayak certainly makes the grocery store more fun.
Being in a kayak certainly makes the grocery store more fun. Greta Kaul

As originally reported in the San Francisco Chronicle , Brendan Loftis took advantage of being out of school to paddle a kayak through the flooded parking lot of a Safeway grocery store in Healdsburg, a wine country town in Sonoma. Well done, Brendan: We’ll take kayaking over studying any day, too. (It’s unconfirmed if that’s Brandon in this Vine video  that made the rounds over Twitter and Instagram, by the way, but we’re guessing that’s him.) There were also reports of kayakers hopping into a tandem boat and taking on the surging Russian River.

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