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Sneaker Wave Danger Expanded on Oregon Coast, Washington for Holiday

Updated 11/24/21 at 4:22 PM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Sneaker Wave Danger Expanded on Oregon Coast, Washington for Holiday

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(Coos Bay, Oregon) – [UPDATED: SNEAKER WAVE DANGER NOW THROUGH WASH COAST] - Look for possibly wild waves on the Oregon coast and Washington on Thanksgiving but also some dangerous conditions on beaches. The National Weather Service (NWS) in Medford issued a Beach Hazards Statement for the southern Oregon coast on the holiday, for all areas from Reedsport southward. However, the other two NWS offices in the region just added the north Oregon coast and south Washington coast to the hazards statement, where the advisory is in effect longer, from Thursday morning through Friday evening. (Photo courtesy Greg Lerwill, Shore Acres State Park)

There's a significantly higher threat for sneaker waves expected from Thursday morning into the evening, but up north the danger exists through Friday night. At issue is quite a long period between swells, which causes the random dangers in the surf.

The NWS said the waves themselves won't be very large, only 3 to 5 feet high. But it's the 16-18 seconds of period swells that causes waves to build up and pile up on each other, thus causing a racing sneaker wave.

“Even during calm conditions, sneaker waves can sweep up the beach without warning and knock unsuspecting people over and pull them out to sea,” the NWS said. “Shock and hypothermia can occur quickly in the cold Pacific waters. In addition, logs and other debris can be lifted and carried by the waves, crushing or entrapping unsuspecting victims underneath.”

The NWS said high tide at 3 p.m. brings the greatest dangers. You should also stay off beaches with a lot of debris, in case you do get caught by surprise. That debris could injure you.

With the holiday coinciding with these longer period swells, the Medford office opted to issue the warning to beachgoers, who will be out on the Oregon coast in full force on Thanksgiving.

See Oregon Coast Weather - Washington Coast Weather

“Models remain consistent with timing, most likely for a few to several hours Thursday afternoon/evening. High tide is around 3 pm on Thursday,” the NWS said. “The longer period waves (around 21 seconds) are expected reach the coast late Wednesday night, but they'll only be around 1 foot. We expect them to increase to 2-5 feet on Thursday, while periods shorten to 16 seconds by Thursday evening. These waves, while still on the low side in terms of height, are higher energy and have the ability to run up farther on beaches.”

There are no such situations on the north Oregon coast.

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Sunset Bay, courtesy Greg Lerwill




Photo courtesy Seaside Aquarium


Paradise Point, courtesy Anita Riten

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