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Ocean Takes Out Chunk of Central Oregon Coast Cliff


Covering 180 miles of Oregon coast travel: Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita, Nehalem, Wheeler, Rockaway, Garibaldi, Tillamook, Oceanside, Pacific City, Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Waldport, Yachats & Florence.


Secrets of the Season

Ocean Takes Out Chunk of Central Oregon Coast Cliff

Photo by Guy DiTorrice shows a drain pipe now exposed

(Newport, Oregon) – It was either a really exciting storm or a so-so event, depending on who you talk to. But in Newport, the storm surges and immense wave action may turn out to be an expensive ordeal for the Oregon Department of Transportation, with as much as six feet of roadway falling away just north of town in some spots.

On the north coast, there were some exhilarating moments had by various stormwatchers and tourists, but altogether Saturday’s massive 20-foot swells didn’t make much more of an impression than sucking out a lot of sand.

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More impressive for many was the small dusting of snow on the Oregon coast, and a much bigger wallop of the white stuff along the roads to the coast.

Chunk of roadside and cliff missing near Newport (photo Guy DiTorrice)

Newport beach expert Guy DiTorrice took some photos for BeachConnection.net, showing some spectacular erosion that ate away at cliffs about 60 feet high, carving so thoroughly in some spots that large chunks of pavement by the side of Highway 101 fell to the beach.

DiTorrice said this spot is just less than a mile south of the Beverly Beach turnoff at 101, all a bit north of Newport.

“We probably lost between four to six feet at the two sites where the drain pipes can
be seen,” DiTorrice said. “And we're barely into a month of ‘winter’ weather.”

Photo Guy DiTorrice

Damage was not as severe south of this spot, and yet sand hasn’t been eroded away as much as would be expected in such an event. “South of here is not as high a sandstone headland,” he said. “Amazingly, as the higher-elevation shots show, we're still seeing lots of sand on the beaches. But, we're seeing some rock that hasn't been sand-cleared since '96 and '97.”

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There are 4,000-year-old tree stumps buried beneath the sands at this part of Moolack Beach, which showed themselves by this time last year. These are the remnants of a forest inundated by sand, mud and possibly seawater over a relatively short period of time, which killed them but preserved them well over the millennia. They typically poke their heads out when sand levels get scoured enough by winter storm wave action.

Photo Guy DiTorrice

DiTorrice said sand levels haven’t gotten that low yet. But other curious sights have emerged.

“Lots of nice rock showing at Moolack - north of the motel, or turn right after getting onto the beach there,” he said. “Also at the site photographed about one-mile south of the Beverly Beach State Park day use area (e.g. turn left after getting onto the beach).”

On the north coast, Seaside Aquarium manager Keith Chandler said the snow was the biggest story, as far as he could see. “It came in over the morning, then melted,” Chandler said. “Another dusting happened in the afternoon, but it also melted. Right now, it’s about ten degrees warmer in the late afternoon than it was earlier today. Astoria got quite a bit of snow. But it all didn’t last too long.”

Wave laps at Seaside Turnaround (photo Tiffany Boothe, Seaside Aquarium)

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Feed the seals! One of the oldest aquariums in the U.S. is here in Seaside, Oregon, right on the Promenade

As for the storm waves, there were a few impressive moments. Chandler didn’t get to look around much, but he did see the a wave or two lapping at the Seaside Turnaround, which is rare and means some monster tides are at play.

Geologist Tom Horning took a ride around the north coast and saw some logs had been tossed onto the dunes at Gearhart on this weekend – a rather ominous display of the ocean’s power. “I didn’t see that much erosion, however,” Horning said. “Maybe some at the cliffs around Gearhart. Here on the bay, there were some waves splashing here and there, but it was mostly a non-event.”

Rocks have emerged at Moolack Beach, Newport (photo Guy DiTorrice)

Horning said a friend got soaked by a large wave at the viewing platform at the south jetty of the Columbia. That is a rather scary prospect, as the platform stands three stories tall and sits about 50 feet from the jetty. “A huge wave came up just as a large wind gust came up, and it soaked them from that far away,” Horning said.

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Sand levels have begun to sink, however. He estimates many parts of the north coast have lost two to four feet since the fall. “Not much erosion has happened so far. But I believe we’re being set up for some bigger erosion, if we have some more big storm events, because the sand levels are lower and will allow that.”

Seaside looked a bit like this briefly on Sunday morning (photo taken in January of last year)

The jury is still in on what oddities will have washed up over the weekend’s grouping of storms. Recent weeks have seen a rare turtle and a sperm whale roll in on the north coast, but nothing too interesting has made an appearance on the central coast.

Newport beach expert and naturalist Terry Morse said he’s been walking the beaches a lot recently but hasn’t seen anything too out of the ordinary. But that depends on your perspective.

“Despite the heavy surf, just about nothing extraordinary has washed up recently,” Morse said. “A relatively intact dead California sea lion at Yaquina Bay State Park on December 29. On January 4, several dead birds, including two or three Cassin's auklets (one of them I am unsure of), two western grebes, and two cormorants. There were two non-matching shoes, two wine bottles, a few mole crabs, and the usual assortment of marine debris. On January 5, a highly decomposed pinniped, virtually a bag of bones, at Yaquina Bay State Park, that might have been a northern elephant seal.”

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All homes are immaculate and smoke free; some pet friendly (with a fee). Some with broadband, indoor or outdoor hot tubs, fireplaces, decks, and fire pits or barbecues. Call about tempting winter specials that go until March (not valid holidays, however). www.archcaperentals.com 866-436-1607.

Lincoln City Vacation Homes Something for everyone: smaller homes with a view to a large house that sleeps 15. All are either oceanfront or just a few steps away – all with a low bank access and fantastic views. Most are in the Nelscott area; one is close to the casino. You’ll find a variety of goodies: fireplaces, multiple bedrooms, dishwashers, Jacuzzis, washer/dryers, hot tubs, cable TV, VCR, barbecues; there’s a loft in one, and another sprawling home has two apartments. Pets allowed in some homes – ask first. Each comes with complete kitchens. Most have seventh night free. Prices range from winter $85 to summer $230 per night. www.getaway2thecoast.com. 541-994-8778.

Literally over 100 homes available as vacation rentals – all distinctive and carefully selected to be special. Find them in Yachats, Waldport, Newport, Nye Beach, Otter Rock, Depoe Bay, Gleneden Beach, Lincoln Beach, Lincoln City, Neskowin, Pacific City, Tierra Del Mar and Rockaway Beach. Some pet friendly.
Condo-hotel that offers the amenities of a fine hotel, but also includes ownership of a vacation home on the north Oregon coast. It is a unique opportunity, as condo owners have an opportunity to share in the revenues of their unit. All have either spectacular, nearly aerial views of the ocean and city, or they gaze out at the lush forests of the coast range mountains. There are private balconies in all rooms, which come as studios or units with one bedroom or two - as large as 850 square feet. Each is fully furnished. $189,000 to $449,000, (with most in the $300,000 range.) When owners are not using their units, they may be rented out as hotel rooms, and owners may share in those revenues.

Tradewinds Motel, Rockaway Beach. All rooms are immaculate and have TV’s, VCR’s and in-room phones w/ data ports. Oceanfronts have queen bed, a double hide-a-bed, kitchen, cozy firelog fireplace and private deck. Both types sleep up to four people. Others are appointed for a two-person romantic getaway, yet still perfect for those on a budget. Elaborate oceanfront Jacuzzi suite has two bedrooms, kitchen, double hide-a-bed, fireplace and private deck, sleeping as many as six. For family reunions or large gatherings such as weddings, some rooms can connect to create two-room and three-room suites. Some rooms pet friendly. 523 N. Pacific St., Rockaway Beach. (503) 355-2112 - 1-800-824-0938. www.tradewinds-motel.com

Inn At Spanish Head, Lincoln City. Lincoln City’s only resort hotel built right on the beach with all oceanfront rooms - nestled against a rugged cliffside overlooking a soft, sandy beach. Dine in penthouse restaurant and bar, for casual meal or candlelight dinner. An array of seafood specialties, juicy steaks and other Northwest favorites, including decadent Sunday buffet. Rooms range from bedrooms to studios to 1-bedroom suites with microwaves and refrigerators to full kitchens. Also, wi-fi, spa, saunas, exercise room and year-round heated swimming pool. Kids will love the game room and easy beach access. Full-service conference/meeting rooms for that inspirational retreat; extensive wedding possibilities. 4009 SW Highway 101, Lincoln City. 1-800-452-8127 or 541-996-2161. www.spanishhead.com

Inn at Cannon Beach. Beautifully wooded natural setting at quiet south end of Cannon Beach. Great during winter storms with a new book by the fireplace – or when the sun is out for family fun and beach strolling. Handsome beach cottage-style architecture. Lush flowering gardens and naturalized courtyard pond. Warm, inviting guest rooms. Continental buffet breakfast. Warm Cookies. Family and Pet Friendly. Welcome gifts. Smoke-free. Complimentary Wireless Connectivity. Wine and book signing events. 800-321-6304 or 503-436-9085. Hemlock At Surfcrest, Cannon Beach, Oregon. www.atcannonbeach.com.

The Ocean Lodge. There will not be another property built like this in Cannon Beach in our lifetimes. Rare, premiere ocean front location; handsome, dramatic architecture and tasteful, fun (nostalgic) beach interiors. Overlooks Haystack Rock. 100 percent smoke free. Imaginative special occasion packages. Massive wood burning lobby fireplace. Library w/ fireplace, stocked with impressive book collection. Pet and family friendly. Lavish continental buffet breakfast. In-room fireplaces, mini-kitchens. Jacuzzi tubs in select rooms. DVD players, complimentary movies. Morning paper. Warm cookies. 888-777-4047. 503-436-2241. 2864 Pacific Street. Cannon Beach, Oregon. www.theoceanlodge.com


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20 gorgeous homes sleep up to 18; doubled that with some side-by-side homes. Some pet friendly. Cottages to massive homes; new oceanfront to renovated historic beach houses. All over central coast w/ Lincoln City, Otter Rock, Boiler Bay and Nye Beach. Long list of features, including barbecues, large decks, antique furnishings, wood stoves, gas fireplaces, hardwood floors, Jacuzzis and hot tubs. Most have movies, music, books. Gift basket w/ goodies in each

Newly renovated, 30 upscale rooms, on north end of Lincoln City, close to everything. Spa-like feeling, w/ luxury linens & robes, pillow top mattresses, flat screen TV's, granite counters and more all add to pampering. Oceanfront and ocean view units w/ gas fireplace. Hot Tub units. Romance packages. Luxury Room for every budget: meeting and wedding spaces too.



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