High surf in Bethany Beach via @paigener on Twitter

Waves up to 8 feet high pounded the Atlantic shore of Maryland and Delaware Tuesday as Tropical Storm Bertha churned up the coast offshore.  The giant waves and rip-roaring surf consumed vast stretches of beach and forced water rescues. Lifeguards even ordered all swimmers out of the water for periods of time in Ocean City and Bethany.

Falls Church resident A.J. Wojciak, vacationing in Bethany Beach, described the scene:

I’d estimate [the waves] were a good 8 feet tall and crashed violently close to shore, both getting deep into the beach (all the way to the dunes) and pulling back hard.  There were pools of water at the back of the beach near the dunes with currents running through them back down to the shore line, creating what were like rip tides onshore.  The crashing sound of the surf was much more audible on the boardwalk and further back than usual.

Wojciak said his sons, attending a junior lifeguard camp, witnessed the rescue of a distressed swimmer:

Not long after the guards went off duty for the day, some folks foolishly decided to brave the waves.  Makes no sense, but people old and young were doing it, some trying to body surf, others just swimming.  Not surprisingly, not long after, some folks approached my kids’ camp group frantically asking for help from the guards running the camp, saying there was a swimmer in trouble.  At least one of the guards ran off, swam into the surf and rescued the person.

Rescues were also reported in Ocean City.

Baltimore Meteorologist Justin Berk – on his Facebook page – believes an offshore sandbar was destroyed by a powerful undertow allowing large waves to reach sections of Ocean City’s shoreline unimpeded:

This [image below] was at 89th St from Josie Skarm as she said the lifeguard was pleading with people to stay out [of] the growing ‘sinkhole’. …

It appears an offshore sandbar was destroyed by the undertow allowing the strong waves to reach the beach and do this. Any normal day, larger waves break BEFORE reaching the beach, protecting it. 

As of this morning, now post-Tropical Storm Bertha has raced off to the north and was positioned 305 miles south of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

National Hurricane Center track forecast for Tropical Storm Bertha
National Hurricane Center track forecast for Tropical Storm Bertha

The surf has relaxed at the Mid-Atlantic beaches, but waves are still higher than normal. This is good news for surfers and body boarders says chief meteorologist Wyatt Everhart at ABC2 Baltimore:

As is being forecast by SwellInfo.com , in terms of size, 3 to 4 foot waves will be likely overnight into the 1st part of Wednesday across the Maryland beaches.

While swimmers should use caution, this is exactly the type of swell surfers, longboarders, stand up paddlers (SUPs), and body boarders wait all summer for here on the East Coast.

Here’s multi-media from the beaches yesterday from Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram….

Ocean City

via crystallight10 on Instagram

Ocean City, Md. at 41st St. on August 5. Ocean was about 30 yards beyond normal shoreline. (Zee Rahim via Facebook)

 Bethany Beach

Video courtesy A.J. Wojciak, from Bethany Beach

Video courtesy Frank Roylance, from Bethany Beach

Video courtesy Frank Roylance, from Bethany Beach

Video courtesy Frank Roylance, from Bethany Beach