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Oregon Coast Summer Day Full of Weather, Tide Surprises
(Cannon Beach, Oregon) – A simple summer day has much more than meets the eye. The north Oregon coast is packed full of people on this early August day, basking in the rays, cavorting in the water and causing “no vacancy” signs to light up everywhere. But everyone is in for some atmospheric surprises.
The sun is beating down on places like Cannon Beach, inspiring locals to constantly tell every visitor and each other to “enjoy the sun while you can.” This seems to happen without fail, at places like the Cannon Beach History Center and restaurant The Warren House. And yet there are copious amounts of mist to be seen periodically, along with a cloud bank looming offshore that does a variety of increasingly interesting things.
In one case, it creates this somewhat unusual scene behind the landmark Haystack Rock.
Down around Manzanita, as the waning sun gets a vibrant orange tint to it, the beaches here are painted in captivating colors.
Up above town, at the overlooks, it gets even more striking. That cloud bank offshore again features prominently.
It’s amazing how things can abruptly change and the weather system that surrounds you can shift to something startling and dramatic. But that’s the magic of the Oregon coast.
A little while later, that offshore marine layer turns especially surreal at the same overlooks. It looks a little bit like that “haboob” phenomenon recently seen in Arizona: those enormous dust storms that marched menacingly across that dry landscape. But this place is quite the opposite, and in fact the air is very humid.
Those soaking wet clouds bend and twist the light in engaging ways, subtly painting the overlooks. They look almost electrified: like something from a time travel movie that takes place in the Bermuda Triangle.
A bit closer to Cannon Beach, Hug Point is in an extraordinary state with a wowing minus tide. The waves normally well cover these rocks, but now there is nearly 100 feet between here and the tide line.
The last remaining rays of sunlight do battle with the encroaching cloud layer with fascinating results: the clouds are a metallic blue while the sand is painted reddish.
The ancient road going around Hug Point again illustrates just how far out the tide is. Normally, the waves are right near the top of this platform. Now, the whole area is visible and in the open air.
More visual magic happens the darker things get: a crescent moon begins to get in on the action. For a little while longer, the reddish tint remains in the sand.
Soon, however, even that disappears, and the dominant cast is blue. The moon does some downright magical stunts with the low tide and clouds at this point.
By 11 p.m., Seaside is enveloped in an unseasonably thick fog. From the southern cove area, it blocks the lights of town altogether. At the same time, that minus tide continues its stunning antics. Normally the waters are up at this wet area that can be seen at the bottom of the rocks.
A little bit later, the fog mostly lifts, but the minus tide remains. This vantage point is from where the ocean normally is. You’re actually looking back towards where the water line is most of the time.
Taking a peek to the north, you can see the very distant light of a lighthouse on the Washington coast, a searchlight from the airport at Gearhart, a vehicle driving around the beach perhaps as far as north as Fort Stevens, and the clouds and remnants of fog capturing a variety of light sources in beautiful and yet otherworldly ways. Much of this is reflected in pools of water where the ocean is usually several feet high.
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