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Oregon / Washington Coast Alerts: Flood Watch, First Big Waves of Season

Published 09/23/23 at 7:37 p.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Oregon / Washington Coast Alerts: Flood Watch, First Big Waves of Season

(Astoria, Oregon) – Floods, lots of rain, high winds and some rather good storm watching are all in store for the Oregon coast and Washington coast as the first big storm of the season sweeps in starting Sunday. It's all bringing a ton of rain to Portland, Eugene, Tacoma and Seattle as well, creating some slick road hazards but also squelching a lot of fires in the Pacific Northwest. (Graphic Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

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Some are referring to it as an “atmospheric river” coming to Oregon and Washington, and along the coastlines they are expecting the highest rainfall amounts. It's enough to create a flood watch on the south Oregon coast, in effect from Sunday evening through Monday, issued by the National Weather Service (NWS).

The areas from Reedsport down to the California border are under the watch – along with inland areas of Douglas, Josephine and Siskiyou counties.

“The first moderate to heavy rain event of the season will arrive late Sunday into Monday,” the NWS said. “While this rainfall will be mostly beneficial as we are coming out of the dry season, there is a risk that moderate to heavy rainfall could produce debris flows on this season's burn scars.”

The Oregon coast and Oregon Coast Range will get the hardest rains, as well as parts of the southern Washington coast. Wind gusts up to 40 or 45 mph are expected, just shy of any high wind warning.

Fairly large waves will be battering the Oregon coast and Washington coast as well, so get out your raingear to go check out places like Shore Acres at Coos Bay, Cape Disappointment near Ilwaco or Yachats. Waves nearly 20 feet high will be firing offshore, coming in hot and heavy to cliff areas – although not posing too many dangers on the beaches.

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Wave heights can differ drastically between different areas of the two coastlines, such as the areas between Cape Arago and Florence will see higher waves than those south of Arago.

The NWS said much of the region will see offshore waves in the 9-foot to nearly 20-foot range.

“A dynamic wind sea will develop across the coastal waters during this time bringing seas into the mid to upper teens across the inner zones and upper teens to low 20s across the outer waters with a dominant period around 10 seconds,” the NWS said on its website.

On the upper Washington coast, combined seas just offshore are around 15 feet on Monday, rising to almost 20 feet later at night. Tuesday may see them top 20 feet high and then lower to under ten feet on Wednesday.

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Down around the southern Oregon coast near Gold Beach and Brookings, combined waves begin ramping up on Sunday night to around 10 feet high, with Monday seeing westerly swells at 13 feet and wind waves 5 to 7 feet (combined seas at nearly 20 feet). They stick around those numbers through Tuesday, then subsiding later that night.

Showers are in store for all of Oregon and most of Washington for this period, with Sunday through Tuesday producing an inch and a half to more than two inches for the majority of the two coastlines. Thunderstorms are also possible along the way, especially Monday through Wednesday.

Highs will be in the low 60s and lows in the 50s overnight on the coastlines. Look for winds as high as 40 mph in some parts of the shoreline.

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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