Unusually High Sand Level Events Continue on Oregon Beaches
(Oceanside, Oregon) – Much of the summer of 2012 has seen a return of the extraordinarily high sand levels that happened in 2011, but this time they're lasting much longer. Like last year, parts of the Oregon coast had extremely rare access to rock structures normally covered by water – some are usually quite deeply underwater. Normally very dangerous spots in Oceanside, Arch Cape, Depoe Bay, Cannon Beach and others were suddenly quite wide open and safe to wander up to.
The big difference is that last year the phenomenon only last a month or two, but this time around the high sand levels are still present at many of these beaches.
Oceanside is one stellar example. High sand levels have kept the tide line away from normally-dangerous Maxwell Point, the cliff outcropping that dominates the beach in this north Oregon coast village that's about nine miles from Tillamook. This area is only accessible via a tunnel through the cliff, but since July the area has a tide line so far out beyond its usual place that you can easily walk around the point.
All photographs here were taken at Oceanside on Thursday, September 27, showing the marvelous sights still available.
Summer's calm waves allow sand to pile up, and the result is a higher berm – the sandy section of beach between the vegetation line and the tide line. If sand piles up high enough, it begins to form a kind of sand bar that grows outward until it literally pushes the tide much farther out than usual, giving that area an effect like a constant state of extreme low tide event.
Oceanside's Maxwell Point is usually covered in wild waves and only very rare low tide events allow access around it. At times there has been as much as 50 feet between the point and the tide line over this summer. It's lasted much longer than before as well. In the rare cases sand levels like this occur, they usually disappear after a few weeks. For some unknown reason, ocean conditions have remained calm enough to let this happen more and longer than before, with access to places like Maxwell Point, spots in the Cannon Beach area and other sections of the Oregon coast being not just unprecedented but sticking around past the main summer season and into the early fall.
Even residents of the area are a bit shocked at these sights. Diane Emineth, owner of Sand Lake Country Inn nearby, said she's never seen the tide line like this at Oceanside.
The effect on Oceanside hasn't been consistent. Sand levels dropped and the tides came back over Maxwell Point in September for a while, especially during the slightly stormier weather the Oregon coast had during a few days in the month. Access to Maxwell Point was still there on Thursday – late into September – but it was getting precarious.
If calm conditions stay, this phenomenon could stick around for another week or two or perhaps just a few days, resulting in many favorite beaches with continued incredibly easy access to structures not normally even approachable.
Make sure you keep a close eye on the tide if you decide to check any of these areas out. Be warned that Oceanside's access phenomenon at Maxwell Point seems to be waning. The coming weekend seems to call for continued awesome weather, however, so chances of seeing some of these places in this condition are pretty good. Photos of Oceanside in this state earlier this summer are here.
Above: Oceanside's Maxwell's Point as it normally looks
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