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First Round of Sneaker Waves, Stormwatching for Oregon / Washington Coast: Warnings

Published 10/30/22 at 4:53 PM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

First Round of Sneaker Waves, Stormwatching for Oregon / Washington Coast: Warnings

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(Cannon Beach, Oregon) – The first serious bout of wave action and beach hazards for the Oregon coast and south Washington coast hits the beaches later tonight, bringing waves as high as 20 – 25 feet in some areas along with a variety of advisories. The southern Curry Coast is under a beach hazards statement, the upper section of the south Oregon coast is under a high surf advisory, and the upper half of the Oregon coast and southern edges of Washington's coast have more informal statements about increased sneaker wave dangers. (Photo Oregon Coast Beach Connection: giant waves at Cape Kiwanda)

All of this starts about 11 p.m. Sunday and is active until late afternoon on Monday to late evening.

There is increased danger but also plenty of storm watching, especially on the south coast's Shore Acres area and possibly Washington coast's Cape Disappointment.

From Ocean Park in Washington southwards through Cannon Beach, Pacific City and down to Florence, the Portland office of the National Weather Service (NWS) said offshore seas will be building to 18 feet overnight with conditions more conducive to sneaker waves.

“Not that it will be a calm day on the beach on Monday with rain and some wind, but if you do decide to venture onto the beach or want to fish from a jetty, be aware there is an increased risk of sneaker waves on Monday,” the Portland NWS said.

For the time being they're simply issuing cautionary statements, but there could be greater dangers coming.

“A relatively large longer period swell will bring a threat of sneaker waves to the coast Monday,” the NWS said. “There is a chance conditions could meet High Surf Advisory criteria, but this largely assumes current model guidance is in fact too low late Sunday night into early Monday. Given the uncertainty, timing and marginal nature of this event will hold off on any highlights for now.”

See Oregon Coast Weather - Washington Coast Weather

On the south central Oregon coast – including Reedsport, Coos Bay, Bandon and Port Orford – the NWS in Medford issued a high surf advisory from 11 p.m. this evening until 5 p.m. Monday. Large, breaking waves of 20 to 25 feet are expected on beaches, which will make many areas in this area unacceptably dangerous, including smaller beaches. Numerous spots around Bandon will be especially problematic as there are only cliffs behind the beach and no quick escape from waves.

The NWS said hazardous conditions are likely, and these big waves “could inundate beaches and low lying shorelines. Beach erosion is possible, and exposed infrastructure may be damaged.”

'Wave Height' Explained Along Oregon, Washington Coast: What It Means 

For the southern Curry Coast – including Gold Beach and Brookings – conditions are less severe but the risk of sneaker waves is sizable.

“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.”

Weather along the coastlines will be rainy and windy in the first place, so it won't be ideal for being on the sands. However, storm watching from your car should be excellent, such as at Depoe Bay, Oceanside, Pacific City, Bandon, Coos Bay's Cape Arago areas, Port Orford, the pullouts near Humbug, or Neahkahnie Mountain near Manzanita.

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Shore Acres, courtesy Manuela Durson - see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more

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