Photos by Jon Scott Winebarger, John Streit & Shaun Devine. Words by Streit.

Now that we are more than a week removed from the passing of Winter Storm Jonas, it’s become clear that the storm was of historic nature. From record-breaking snowfall totals for the Northeast, storm surge flooding in New Jersey to swell filling nearly the entire North Atlantic, Jonas proved to be a true beast. Along with those affects, the storm also pulled frigid, Arctic air across the region. However, you can be certain that cold air and water have never stopped dedicated surfers from scoring surf. With Jonas’ winds ferociously pushing against a large fetch of open ocean, the resulting swell was so powerful that it marched straight into the Chesapeake Bay and broke more than 13 miles away from its oceanic source. That’s right, the Chesapeake Bay offered firing conditions during Jonas’ coldest moments. It takes a storm of exceptional power to send ridable swell toward this portion of coastline. When all the conditions come together, the waves have every bit of the punch and power of solid day along the Atlantic. On this day; icy winds blew straight offshore, temperatures were in the 20s and water temperatures weren’t much warmer at a balmy 37 degrees. That’s 10 degrees colder than the ocean on the same day due to proximity to frigid water pouring from the James River, York River and northern Chesapeake Bay. This meant full wetsuit armor — a hooded 5/4, gloves and boots — were needed not just for comfort, but to prevent actual frostbite. Bluebird skies overhead are also a rarity for good surf days at this spot, since storm surf is required for it to turn on. All of these elements came together to create an unforgettable session for all who answered the icy Chesapeake’s call.

Changing into our wetsuits was a bone-chilling task. Shaun Devine waxes up for one of the coldest sessions of his life. Photo: Streit.
A longtime bay surfer, Brian Bassett said this was one of the best, cleanest days he has ever seen at this spot. Photo: Streit.
Brian Bassett, right at home inside this bay drainer. Photo: Winebarger.
Conner Barnes' first bay session reaped icy rewards. Photo: Winebarger.
Did we mention it was a little chilly out there? Photo: Streit.
Another bay peeler courtesy of Winter Storm Jonas. Photo: Devine.
It breaks close to the beach here -- an big advantage for maximizing winter sessions. Photo: Streit.
No matter how many times you surf it, you still can't believe you're 13 miles away from the Atlantic. Photo: Streit.
Thawing out on the way home. Photo: Devine.

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