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King Tides Return This Weekend to Oregon, Washington Coast; Warnings Possible

Published 02/04/2020 at 9:30 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

King Tides Return This Weekend to Oregon, Washington Coast; Warnings Possible

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(Manzanita, Oregon) – This weekend brings the last round of king tides to the Oregon coast and the Washington coast, and what are already exceptionally high tides look as if they’ll be even larger because of some sizable wave action offshore. Saturday through Monday will again mean some of the highest tides of the year, and more caution should be exercised – especially considering the massive disregard for warnings during January’s event. (Above: Newport gets by tidal surges in the '30s).

(BREAKING NEWS: Lincoln City has canceled its special glass float drop for the weekend, resuming on Tuesday)

This time around, tide tables are predicting ranges like seven to nine-foot high tides in many bay areas, which does not necessarily translate into that height coming onshore. It does, however, mean the water levels will be quite high. Adding to that are storm / wind conditions offshore that will be causing larger-than-normal swells and thus bigger waves breaking onto beaches in both Washington and Oregon. This could bring more beach or surf warnings from weather officials.

The National Weather Service is calling for offshore swells as large as over 20 feet on the northern half of the Oregon coast on Saturday, and often near 20 feet for the weekend from the southern Oregon coast through the Washington coastline.

Largely, king tides are the result of a more intense interaction between the moon and the Earth. According to the Oregon King Tides Photo Initiative:

“Tides are caused by the gravitational influence of the sun, the moon, and the earth on the earth’s oceans. When the orbits and alignment of the earth, moon and sun come into a particular relationship, the tidal range is at its greatest; low tides are especially low and high tides are especially high.”

Indeed, minus tides of around negative one foot will be common at low tides for this event. The highest tides generally occur in the morning to early afternoon, depending on where you are along the Pacific Northwest coastline. Times vary greatly: see the Oregon King Tides site and the Washington Coast King Tides site.

On the northern half and southern half of the Oregon coast, the NWS said expect large swells.

“The weekend points to steeper seas due to stronger winds and added moderate to high wind waves,” the NWS said.

For the northern half, conditions seem a little more severe offshore. The NWS is looking at combined seas of 23 feet on Saturday and 17 feet on Sunday. The southern portion of the coast will get about two to four feet less on those days. The NWS said not all models are yet in agreement how intense the wave action will be out to sea. It has as yet made no prediction for period swells, which is an indicator for sneaker waves if that is a high number.

Along the Washington coast, the area is looking at similar conditions.

“Another strong Pacific frontal system will arrive Friday night and Saturday with seas building to 15 to 20 feet,” the NWS in Seattle said. See Washington Coast Weather - Oregon Coast WeatherOregon Coast Hotels for this event - Where to eat - Maps - Virtual Tour

The Oregon King Tides Photo Initiative urges extreme caution while photographing these high tides: stay off slippery trails near the beach and always be aware of your surroundings, it said.

See beach safety advice here: Getting the Message to Oregon Coast Storm Watchers: Why It's Not Working

Words of Caution for Beach Safety

Stay off Beaches During the Warning Periods

Stay far from any jetties

Stay far back from rocky ledge areas like at Yachats or Depoe Bay

Watch waves from a distant, elevated area

Heed any parking lot closures – your vehicle could get ruined

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