Watching Storms Safely on the Oregon Coast

Published 11/01/2012


(Oregon Coast) – There's little doubt storm season arrived rather quickly and abruptly on the Oregon coast, rushing in after a long run of especially warm weather. Big waves and some flooding started on the roads this week – and such situations beg for a reminder about beach safety during storm watch season. (Above: Nye Beach).

Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) and many other coastal officials get fairly worried when this part of the year comes along, as beach safety is a concern year-round. but even more so when those attractive, monster waves start rolling in and crowds start arriving to watch.

Robert Smith, the Safety and Maintenance Training Coordinator with OPRD, said there are a few basic guidelines to look for hitting the coast for wild wave viewing.

“During storm season, especially when high winds and high surf are predicted, it is safest to avoid small, enclosed beaches and jetties,” Smith said.

He did not point out any particular beaches as being less safe than others, but only offered those guidelines. Beaches that could fall under such a category as small and enclosed would be: Indian Beach at Cannon Beach, Hug Point, Arch Cape and Arcadia Beach near Cannon Beach, Short Sands, Oceanside, Netarts Bay, parts of Road's End in Lincoln City, Gleneden Beach, Otter Rock, Ona Beach, Tillicum Beach, and most of the beaches between Yachats and Florence.

Jetties that frequently cause issues are those at the mouth of the Columbia, Rockaway Beach, Newport and Florence.


Really small beaches like Hug Point or Boiler Bay are absolutely dangerous. Even apparently wide beaches like Gleneden Beach can be problematic. Deaths have occurred there and at Boiler Bay in the last decade. Some beaches are deceptively wide as well. Nye Beach in Newport and parts of Lincoln City can easily receive enormous waves with little or no notice, flooding up to the cliff line. (Above: Indian Beach at Cannon Beach)

OPRD says you should view waves from safe, elevated locations, but stay away from cliff edges.

High, steep cliffs pose plenty of dangers as well. Assume they are all wet and unstable.

“Wet trails or soft sand and earth can make for unstable footing,” OPRD says on its website. “Rocks can be slippery even when it isn’t raining.”

Also avoid rocky ledges close to the sea, like much of Yachats, or big attractions south of it like the Devil's Churn, Strawberry Hill or Bob Creek.

If you see a sign telling you to stay away because of heavy tides or big waves: heed it. Several years ago, a group of storm watchers ignored signs at Barview and some found themselves covered in water. At least one vehicle was tossed around as well.

Simple rainy weather can pose numerous risks too, even without stormy waves. Cliffs and high points above a beach can create the hazards of falling rocks when soaked. (Above: Oceanside)

Generally safe beaches are the extremely wide ones, like Newport's Agate Beach, much of Cannon Beach, most of Seaside (except the cove area), Rockaway Beach (most of the time), the D River at Lincoln City, Pacific City and Florence.

Even though these beach suggestions are offered, make sure you check out the beach from afar before wandering in. Be certain the waves aren't covering the beach periodically in the form of wild sneaker waves.

Rockaway Beach's jetty

Yachats

 

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