Extremely Calm Waves Making a Splash on Oregon Coast Recently
(Oregon Coast) – Locals are not finding it all that surprising, but visitors paying attention to the surf may find it downright shocking. (Above: extremely calm conditions near Depoe Bay in early August)
Wave action along the Oregon coast has generally been almost unusually calm in recent weeks. No major breakers. No large waves crashing in on the sand. Just a strange kind of tranquil, really laidback lapping. In fact, it's been described as like a “lake” out there, and some locals on the coast have said the waves are so small and insignificant that at times it's like a “pond.”
This doesn't mean you shouldn't look out for sneaker waves or still keep safety in mind, but you're going to find the Pacific Ocean quite quiet. Favorite sandy spots like Cannon Beach, Lincoln City, Seaside, Gleneden Beach or Waldport will show this dramatically, more so than rocky ledge spots like Depoe Bay or Yachats.
Lincoln City recently
Weather conditions have been so mellow along the coast that wave action is just not being kicked up. Interestingly enough, however, it's not local winds that affect the ocean waves but those far out at sea. Regional weather experts and beach naturalists say it's weather hundreds of miles away that dictates the size of waves around here – and there's been nothing going on out there.
“It's just a lack of wind,” said Keith Chandler, manager of Seaside Aquarium. “Storms cause waves, and there's just not anything happening out there.”
Steve Pierce, a meteorologist living in Vancouver, Washington, said directions of winds can also play a factor.
“From a weather perspective, the winds have mostly been offshore (easterly) lately and that may help to 'calm' the incoming waves,” Pierce said. “Additionally, it is summer and there is a big ridge of pressure off the coast. In other words, no storms to 'kick up' the waves.”
Near Yachats recently
Chandler added this area is often affected by wind conditions as far away as the Gulf of Alaska.
Jim Todd, astronomy and science expert at Portland's OMSI, talked a bit about the dynamics of wind on the ocean.
“A lot of sloshing goes on when 20 mile per hour winds and higher kick up over the mid-Atlantic and Pacific,” Todd said. “Winds do subside: El Nina and La Nina events are all wind connected and when one starts it's because wind direction and speed over the ocean has changed. So when there are periods of sustained calm winds the seas should be calmer.”
Peg Leoni, owner of Trollers Lodge in Depoe Bay, finally noticed the wildly calm conditions just this week.
“iI was incredibly calm - did look like a big pond,” she said. “Not a global conspiracy or strange weather phenomenon. Just normal ocean. Changes all the time.”
These kinds of conditions make for incredible whale watching, as whales disappear beneath large wave systems. But if these seas are calm and glassy, as they have been quite often in the last month, it'll make spotting them much easier.
The ocean may be glassy and extremely pleasant now, but it's had its unpleasant moments this month too, notes Jeff Hunter, manager of Harborview Inn and RV Park in Garibaldi.
“The last four days the ocean has been 'like a pond' off Garibaldi,” Hunter said. “But before that, last two weeks we've had multiple cancellations due to charters and guides not being able to cross the bar.”
Below: Oceanside in recent weeks
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