Recent Sand Levels Have Interesting Effect on Oregon Coast
(Oregon Coast) – Many favorite tide pool spots have recently disappeared along the Oregon coast. There's a mysterious kind of low tide condition constantly on the beaches these days. Numerous usually hard-to-get-to spots are suddenly open and accessible (above: the normally hidden arch at Arch Cape).
Reports are coming in from all over the coast about this.
What’s happening here is higher-than-usual sand levels. Normally, summer brings in more sand to beaches because of the dynamics of calmer oceans. During winter, storms scour the beaches and remove sand.
“What you’re seeing is just the usual, seasonal rise in beach elevation because of the summer depositing more sand,” said Tom Horning, a geologist living in Seaside.
This year, however, has been extraordinarily different – probably because of unusually calm wave conditions and that long run of nice weather the region has seen.
“We’ve been seeing a lot of sand this summer,” said Don Weller, owner of Ona Beach BnB near Newport. “Like 50 to 100 yards of beach even when its not minus tides due to new moon (which it is right now).”
All this is being documented by CoastWatch – a regional organization with volunteers who check up on beaches around the Oregon coast and log all kinds of observations. One volunteer noted Neptune State Park near Yachats had suddenly received an extra dose of sand and it gave the appearance of a constant state of low tide conditions with the tide line always being farther out than normal.
The irony of such nice, inviting weather conditions is that it covers up many of the favorite pastimes, like tide pools. But it’s leaving some rather hidden secrets open to the public.
One rather extreme and notable exception is Arch Cape, near Cannon Beach. Normally, the point at the southern end of the village’s beach is full with rocky intertidal areas – as seen in a photo here. Currently, all that is covered up by several feet of new sand. The pool area is completely gone.
The other wild and notable aspect here is that such sand conditions keep the tide line much farther out and the rather secretive cove on the other side of the point is suddenly accessible. Normally, a wild surf envelopes this area, prohibiting access. Now, this point is open and people are flocking to it in droves at times.
On the other side lays a stunning arch made of basalt – which is where Arch Cape got its name from. This has been a major attraction for those who know the cape as it is never this accessible and safe to check out.
Horning confirmed that such high sand conditions often create a sand bar of sorts, which keep the tide at bay.
Warning: this is not a substitute for beach safety - see reminders at bottom.
So while tide pools are less of an option to check out in many spots, other favorite beaches have changed their look drastically, or they suddenly allow access to normally dangerous spots.
Other such effects:
Oceanside: You can get to the other side of Maxwell Point via a tunnel, and during some extreme low tide events you actually walk around the point. It’s being reported that for the last month or so this beach too looks like it’s in a constant state of low tide, with the waves staying back from Maxwell Point on a fairly consistent basis, thus allowing you to walk around it.
Allison Asbjornsen, president of the group Oregon Shores – and a CoastWatch volunteer – said she’s noticed this condition for the last month or so, apparently caused by a sand bar that’s built up there.
Beachside State Park, near Yachats and Waldport. High sand levels have created a sort of double tideline because of a sand bar that’s built up on this soft, broad beach. The slope of the sand into the ocean appears to be more gradual than normal, as some beachgoers have been seen wading way out into the surf (although this is not safe behavior by any means).
Hug Point, near Cannon Beach. A little more than half the time, tide conditions don’t allow you to go around the first point where a waterfall sits, much less the second point with the ancient road built on it. These days, the tide is around 100 feet farther out than normal and allowing clear access to all that and safe conditions for playing around the cave there.
Lincoln City. High sands have caused the D River to shift dramatically, at this main access and attraction for Lincoln City. See the full story on this.
You can see the vast difference in your favorite beach as well, like at Cannon Beach, Arcadia State Park, Manzanita, Newport or Neptune State Park. The tide is continually much farther out than usual all along the coast. Many have a huge sand bar near the tide line that can create any number of unusual looks.
Rocky shelf areas like Depoe Bay or Yachats seem largely unaffected, however.
Susan White, with OceanEdge Vacation Rentals in Manzanita, said it’s been problematic for those clients who rent out their homes through the agency.
“We have had an unusual amount of sand build up at our beachfront homes,” White said. “An example: one owner usually hires someone with a bobcat (with permit from the city) to have sand removed, once in the spring. This year she has had it done three times since the spring and the sand returns in a matter of a few weeks each time.”
Beach Safety Reminders
While these conditions often allow better and safer access to many beach spots and points – not so in all instances.
Keep an eye on the tide. It still comes in and sneaker waves still happen.
Keep an eye on how close the tide is to a secret spot destination like at Oceanside or Arch Cape. Do not get trapped by incoming high tides.
Important: these sand conditions could start changing at any time, especially once slightly rougher weather begins coming in.
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