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The Colorful Chaos of Clouds on the Coast of Oregon

Published 08/12/2013

(Oregon Coast) – There is much more to cloudy days on the Oregon coast than meets the eye. Completely overcast days can be lackluster and lifeless – at least photographically – but maybe not all day. Even the cloudiest of days can yield some sensational surprises as the daylight starts shutting down. Other times, some of the most mind-blowing conditions can happen when lots of clouds are around, but with some breaks in them.

Like the photo above, for starters.

Near Pacific City, Tierra Del Mar showed these remarkable colors in early July. Even a marine layer can create some startling shades. But add to that a nice, big pool of sea water that's capable of reflecting these atmospheric wonders and you double your pleasure.

Spring is when clouds on the Oregon coast are typically at their most dramatic. Case in point: Arcadia State Park near Cannon Beach. This memorable moment happened in early June.

Just south of there, Manzanita had been gray and drab all day. But here again is proof that big, fat puffy clouds are full of surprises – especially at the end of the day.

Up in Arch Cape, on the following day in June, there was apparently a kind of inverted marine layer. That is to say the clouds appeared to open up right about where a marine layer would be, had the rest of the sky been clear. These small slits allowed the waning sun to do some astounding pyrotechnics.

In Manzanita, in summer of 2011, you had this startling scene. A massive marine layer was encroaching on the otherwise sunny beaches of the north Oregon coast, but it had an unusual puffy look to it, like a sand haboob. Here, however, as the sun dipped ever lower, it lit up the layer's edges and fired up some wild colors.

Clouds on the coast of Oregon do more than just cover up the sun. They can colorize it; bend and twist the light into some intense reconfigurations. Such was the case in Depoe Bay one summer day a few years back. The air simply abruptly exploded into these vibrant shades of orange and red.

Then, perhaps 20 minutes later, after the sun had gone down, the world suddenly became this dreamy, surreal shade of purple. In both pictures here is the mini headland of the basalt cliffs known as North Point, one of Depoe Bay's most amazing little secrets.

Quite possibly the most esoteric and unforgettable sunsets ever caught by Oregon Coast Beach Connection cameras happened in Seaside in 2004 – a few years before the publication existed, actually. Here, taken during that coveted Second Summer in mid-October, the dark clouds of the day opened up just enough to pinch out a weird little ray of light. When reflected in the water, these dreamlike shafts of triangular light took on a kind of Pink Floyd-like look.

Striking. Surreal. Stunning. Unbelievable, had we not been there to actually snap the pic.


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