Boom you got the Bomb!

As surfers, we’ve grown accustomed to our loved ones criticizing our extraneous purchases. Why do you need a 5’10 X 19 3/16 when you already have a 5’10 X 19 1/4? (“Because I like to shred, Mom, gosh!” is an appropriate, albeit, unhelpful answer). Any Floridian who acquired a hooded wetsuit (or 5 mil booties and gloves, for that matter) prior to the winter of 2017/2018, likely endured similar harassment. After all, it doesn’t get that cold here. It’s Florida, right?

Enter early January’s “Bomb Cyclone” compliments of Winter Storm Grayson, which unleashed blizzard conditions from New England to coastal Virginia and dispatched unusually frigid air and water temps to the Sunshine State. As Grayson brought days of waves and fleeting offshore winds to spots up and down the Atlantic Coast, extraneous suddenly seemed fortuitous, and Northeast Florida surfers — clad in neoprene from head-to-toe — paddled out into sub-50-degree waters, their cries of “I told you so,” muffled by the stiff wind-chill and the sub-20-degree air.

With only narrow windows of clean conditions predicted for the breaks around Jacksonville, a few area surfers headed south, where warmer spots from Cocoa to Palm Beach were predicted to greet the incoming front, holding the size, while remaining relatively less-chilly.

Given the short timetable and uncertain forecast, the most decisive (or lucky) surfers and photographers were able to score quality surf in their native state. Scroll the gallery to see who got the best bombs of the recent, unprecedented “Bomb Cyclone.”

The calm before the cyclone. Justin Quintal posing on a late December runner. Photo: Ian Bunch

The wind turned offshore on Wednesday afternoon. And in St. Augustine, there was still plenty of swell. Photo: Scott Cretul

Unidentified opportunist going left, right after the winds switched. Photo: Cretul

Photographer Will Vogt hung around Brevard county and waited for the conditions to lineup. Photo: Vogt

Here’s a Brevard County drainer lining up for Cory Anderson. Photo: Vogt

Austin Allen headed south with Justin Quintal and Ryan Watters. After patiently waiting for conditions to align, Allen and co. were greeted with some clean South Florida tubes. “We ended up surfing a gated community in North Palm Beach with just us and some guys from Jersey,” Allen said. “With the north swell, the stretch of beach ended up turning into a racey point (I think I saw one close out right). Most waves provided really long travel time but were unmake-able in the end, however, a handful per session were exceptional.” Photo: Patrick Duggan

It’s important to keep your core temp up when surfing in cold waters. Justin Quintal — eyes on the prize — enjoys a little warm-up jog. Photo: Ryan Watters

Quintal finding shade just east of Lake Okeechobee. Photo: Watters

Meanwhile, Jacksonville spots stayed clean (if inconsistent) for several days. Here’s Sean O’Neill navigating a glassy one and finding his way under the lip. Photo: Vogt

Austin Clouse takes a different approach and earns a similar result. Photo: Vogt

Many “Humans of Hanna” remained within striking distance of Kathryn Abbey’s park for the duration of the swell. Here’s surfer/shaper/human Ryan “Rhino” Simmons doing the famous Poles dance. Photo: Cretul

A South Fla. mind-surfing opportunity compliments of Ryan Watters.

Allen doing actual surfing. Photo: Watters

With such a short swell window, Quintal and co refused to go gently into that good night. Photo: Watters

South Florida barrel

Ryan Watters on the other side of the lens in SoFla, Photo: Patrick Duggan

Goodnight Winter Storm Grayson. Photo: Watters