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Looking Back: Eerie Calm Before Oregon Coast Storm of 07
(Seaside, Oregon) – It tore up the coast with gusts over 100 mph in many places, knocking out power for a good week or two on parts of the north Oregon coast. Numerous buildings were damaged, and plenty of objects like signs and trees were toppled. The coast range passes to and from the beaches were shut down for a few days because of large trees blown onto the road. It caused a lot of flooding in some areas, which resulted in a few deaths (above: famed Goonies Rock, at Cannon Beach, taken just a few days before the storm).
It was the big Storm of 07 on the Oregon coast, which wreaked havoc over a period of three days, from December 1 through December 3. But before and after, there was an exceptional calm, an extremely pleasant, lulling calm. In retrospect it’s an eerie one.
Just a few days before, around November 27, the coast was basking in a few days of beautiful weather. Sun and no clouds resulted in brilliant, blue skies and bright, shiny waters, albeit a bit chilly.
It’s amazing what a difference a few days can make.
Earlier on this day in late November, it was actually somewhat warm on the beaches – at least in Seaside. With the sun hitting the water so hard, it makes the area feel warmer than it really is, because the sun reflecting off the ocean heats the immediate area up a bit more. Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff were engaged in a video project, which included taking scenic footage of things like the pipe from Seaside Aquarium, which lay quite exposed on this low tide event.
A bit later, near dusk, things get considerably more chilly, as the wind kicks up a bit and the light lessens. Spots like Ecola State Park in Cannon Beach are exceptionally calm and serene. The ocean surrounding Indian Beach and the landmark “Goonies Rock” (which made an appearance in the cult film from the 80’s) was not only really sedate this day, but tide levels stayed quite low, making the beach bigger.
Up on the high vantage points, you can see wispy clouds that only exist in tranquil skies.
It really looks – and almost feels – like a summer’s day here, except the air does have that winter cold.
From the high vantage points, you’re able to look down on those Cannon Beach landmarks like Chapman Point and then Haystack Rock in the distance. Immediately below you, however, is the secretive Crescent Beach, which is hidden behind the rocky point of Chapman Point, and usually only accessible from a mile and a half hike from the road. But on this day in late November of 2007, tide levels allow you to walk in and out.
It’s a stunning, breathtaking scene. And no one goofing around the beaches knew something historic and deadly was just around the corner.
By December 1, the storm was kicking in, with a one-two punch of high tides, flood warnings, and a series of storms slowly combining into one.
December 2 and 3 saw the worst of it, with 130 mph gusts in numerous spots on the coast. The north coast got it worse than the central coast, and one place – Inn at Seaside – looked like this quite quickly.
Storm winds busted out a window of one house in Seaside, soaking the upper floor with torrential rains. It literally sucked the window out and tossed objects around inside the room like a scene from the Poltergeist flick. Jenny Maxwell, a writer for Oregon Coast Beach Connection at the time, lived there.
“The floor, damp and dilapidated, gave way beneath my feet, causing me to shatter three ribs as I fell through it,” Maxwell said.
Keith Chandler, manager of Seaside Aquarium, was unreachable during much of the storm, but managed to get through to Oregon Coast Beach Connection’s Portland office briefly on December 2.
“It’s like Hiroshima out there,” Chandler said. “There are trees down everywhere. Siding is all over the place. The aquarium’s billboard on the north end of town is knocked over, and most road signs are gone. I think it’s worse than the Columbus Day Storm. There’s more damage.”
The north was literally cut off for about two days, but the minute the passes were cleared of trees, some staff made it out from the Portland office to survey things, document the damage, and make a video of some of it. Power was still out in Manzanita, Cannon Beach and Seaside, and would be for another week or two.
Then, yet again, that winter calm and serenity descended on the north coast. This photo was taken from the Neahkahnie overlooks above Manzanita. A beautiful, windless sunset, with puffy, peaceful clouds dominated the scene. Even the fishing boats were out in full force, trolling the waters.
More on the Oregon Coast Storm coverage:
North Oregon Coast Town Recovers from Storm Drama Dec 10, 2007 ... North Oregon Coast Town Reflects on Storm Drama - There is a palpable relief present ...
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