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Officials Warn Stay Off All Oregon Coast Beaches Thursday

Published 01/18/2018 at 2:42 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Officials Warn Stay Off All Oregon Coast Beaches Thursday

(Oregon Coast) – Although the bulk of the Oregon coast is under a flood warning, that may be the least of its problems. A combination of unusually stormy seas and high tides has put most of the beaches under a coastal hazard warning by the National Weather Service (NWS) for today, in effect through late Thursday. (Photo above: huge waves hit the Oregon coast Wednesday even before the big storm; courtesy a video by Oregon State Parks).

Wave height will likely be around 32 feet at high tide in the early to mid afternoon on Thursday, but the NWS has warned of waves zipping up the beaches as far as 45 feet from the already-bloated tideline.

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The north and central Oregon coast are under the flooding warning, while the entire coast is under one kind of official high surf warning or another. Significant beach erosion is expected. Not only is the NWS adamant in its warnings to stay off the beaches, but all the information it has provided indicates even some places normally safe to watch storms are likely not a good idea.

Already, three fishermen had to be rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard off Wednesday when they were caught in surprise high tides at Ecola State Park in Cannon Beach.

“Breaking waves of 35-45 feet and parallel to the coastline will send water much further up beaches and jetties than normal,” the NWS said. “Structures and roads located immediately at beach level will potentially be flooded or impacted by debris. Many beaches, jetties, and rocky outcroppings will be covered by deep water.”

Stay clear of lower parking lots like those at the D River Wayside in Lincoln City, Oceanside, Newport's Nye Beach or the Tolovana parking lot at Cannon Beach – to name a few. Stay off all beaches Thursday, no matter how wide. Even Seaside is expecting waves to reach the Turnaround.

Low-lying roads could get inundated, such as at Rockaway Beach. Many oceanfront buildings are currently at some risk of storm damage.

“This is NOT the time to be on beaches and jetties,” the NWS said. “Large seas associated with the deep surface low that is running up towards the central BC coast tonight will arrive tonight and continue through Thursday before decreasing again Thursday night. The system bears a resemblance to a storm back on December 10, 2015, where seas topped out in the range of 31 to 32 ft with periods around 17 seconds, that wound up producing some property damage around Depoe Bay and Cannon Beach. Buoy observations from 46002 and 46005, about 300 to 350 miles offshore, support seas of that magnitude reaching the coast Thursday.”

The long timing of the waves – often at 17 seconds – is indicative of a serious danger of sneaker waves.

You could see the fury of the ocean already early in the afternoon on Wednesday, such as this scene at Hug Point near Cannon Beach. This is a still from a remarkable video taken by north Oregon coast resident Steven Bash. See the video.

Seas will remain rough for mariners throughout the week, and large enough to be somewhat dangerous even for beachgoers. On Friday, combined seas lower to around 22 feet. Saturday gets safer for beaches but still cause for caution at 17 to 20 feet high. Sunday repeats these figures, and Monday finally calms down to around 15 feet, which will open up most beaches.

Smaller beaches with little room between the tideline and cliffs should still be avoided over the weekend, such as Gleneden Beach, parts of Lincoln City, or those pocket beaches just south of Yachats. See full Oregon Coast Weather.

Weather throughout the week and into next week will remain unpleasantly windy and with heavy rain. Highs and lows will be in the 40s. The NWS forecast does not yet show a clearing on the Oregon coast. Where to stay for this event - Where to eat - Map and Virtual Tour

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