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Stunning Oregon Coast Weather Brings Out Oddities Like Green Flash, Other Rare Sights


Covering 180 miles of Oregon coast travel: Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita, Nehalem, Wheeler, Rockaway, Garibaldi, Tillamook, Oceanside, Pacific City, Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Wadport, Yachats & Florence.


Secrets of the Season

Stunning Oregon Coast Weather Brings Out Oddities Like Green Flash, Other Rare Sights

Spectacular, even unusual waves pouded the central coast

(Oregon Coast) – Big waves, wild sights, a couple of seals washing ashore, “talking” barnacles and the rare oddity known as the “green flash at sunset:” these were all a part of the Oregon coast this weekend, on top of the vibrant sun and warm temperatures that brought out tourists in droves.

With the coast being the warmest place in Oregon, it wasn’t your average tourist destination by any means. But some interesting, even rare, events added some major spice to a region that is still seeing incredibly hospitable temperatures, and is continuing to see larger than normal numbers of visitors. (Click here for story on tourism numbers and the busy weekend)

Over the weekend, Seaside Aquarium staff had to deal with two strandings of seals on the north Oregon coast, which caused quite the buzz with beachgoers who spotted the always-fascinating natural event.

Aquarium staff had to deal with a seal not unlike this one (which washed ashore at Seaside in August)

The aquarium is part of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, which means when a seal or other sea mammal wanders up on the beach to rest, it’s their job to rush to the area and post signs that people should keep away and not try to misguidedly aide the creature.

A one-year-old seal decided to take a nap on the beach at Cannon Beach, causing a stir among the visitors there. “He decided to nap on a crowded beach,” said Keith Chandler, manager of Seaside Aquarium. “We know we’re getting lots of people on the beach by the amount of phone calls we get on seal strandings. We got a ton of calls.”


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The other seal wandered up to Rockaway to lounge for a while, but aquarium staff didn’t get to that one before dark. Chandler hoped that seal made it back into the water soon.

“It’s really their beach,” Chandler said. “Humans are just using it for awhile. The beach is where they live, so it really belongs to them.”

Big waves at Yachats

Wild, even enormous waves wowed beachgoers all weekend, on top of the blue skies. But especially on Sunday, huge “half pipes” rolled over much of the Oregon coast surfline, along with spectacular white caps caused by east winds.

In Yachats, they made a fiery show, with huge waves rolling over onto themselves, looking like the monsters they get in Hawaii, and then steady east winds would knock the tops off them and create enormous white caps. This big display had professional and semi-professional photographers out in full force on the central coast.

Half pipes like these were common Sunday

“Something interesting was going on here,” said BeachConnection.net editor Andre’ Hagestedt. “You get these white caps when winds from the opposite direction hit them as they’re rolling in. Yet these waves were enormous, while the wind conditions were really quite calm to almost nothing on most of the central coast. Last I heard, there were big storm systems held offshore by warm temperatures here. So it’s likely some storm out there was sending huge waves our way, while a small measure of east winds would tussle the waves into these fantastic displays of spray you saw today.”

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Bob Trusty's shot of the green flash from summer 2006: notice the small green patch in the clouds in the upper left portion of the photo

Crowds were gathered in force along Yachats’ beachfront, with many on the new viewing platform, checking out the maniacal wave action while still basking in relative warmth and lots of sun.

Sunday, the infamous and puzzling “green flash” at sunset made its rare appearance and amazed those who witnessed it. Bob Trusty, co-owner of Village Market & Deli saw it from his restaurant in the Nye Beach district of Newport. Hagestedt, along with girlfriend Melissa Haines, saw it in Waldport.

This rare oddity occurs when atmospheric conditions are just right, and observers see a small, greenish blob hover at the top of the sun just before it drops below the horizon. It usually lasts for two to ten seconds, and is most often seen as a shimmering, indistinct shape that is green.

“It totally blew me away,” Hagestedt said. “I’ve seen it before here in Waldport about ten years ago, in Seaside around that time, and then in Lincoln City this fall.”

Waldport, seconds after the green flash

Hagestedt described this one as a quick blip of a shade of green, really more of a flash in this case. It was faint, he said, but a definite flash of green, as if the sun let out a quick burst of something just as it went down.


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Trusty was trying to photograph the sunset, and wondered if he might see the phenomenon again – as he has photographed it twice this year under very unusual circumstances. “It happened just after I took the shot, but it takes my digital a couple of seconds to reset itself so it can take another picture,” Trusty said. “Then I saw it. It was too late.”

Trusty admitted he wasn’t sure if that’s what he saw until Hagestedt called him by cell phone just outside of Waldport. “I asked him if he saw it, and he said ‘I thought that was it, but wasn’t sure,’ “ Hagestedt said.

Just north of Yachats, where the "talking barnacles" were heard

BeachConnection.net will publish two more articles about this phenomenon this week; one will be part of the “freaky facts” series, and another deals with Trusty’s two photographs of even more rare incarnations of this event.

In Seaside, Chandler said he didn’t see it on Sunday, but admitted he’s a bit jaded by having seen the phenomenon quite frequently. “I see it all the time,” Chandler said.

Chandler also played a role in another remarkable discovery made by BeachConnection.net staff on Sunday. Hagestedt and Haines were walking around a hidden spot just north of Yachats, where tide pools filled the area and barnacles smothered the rocks, when Haines heard an unusual noise.

Cutaway of barnacles

“She stopped me and said the barnacles were making noises,” Hagestedt said. “For a second I thought she was pulling my leg, or maybe I wasn’t understanding her. She kept going ‘Do you hear that? Do you hear that?’ And of course, after being a rock music writer for almost ten years, no, I didn’t. Eventually, she showed me to a spot where she said the barnacles were really making a lot of noise. I bent close, and I heard an odd little squirting or squishing noise. Sure enough, these things do make noise.”

Hagestedt and BeachConnection.net staff then talked to Chandler about the oddity, and he confirmed they actually do make noises. “It happens when they move around in their shells,” Chandler said. “They have two sets of shells to protect themselves.”

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