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S. Washington Coast and Oregon Coast See Increased Sneaker Wave Dangers

Published 3/15/24 at 2:35 a.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

S. Washington Coast and Oregon Coast See Increased Sneaker Wave Dangers

(Port Orford, Oregon) – From the south Washington coast down through to the southern borders of Oregon, the entire coastline is under an increased threat of sneaker waves for Friday into late Saturday. (Seal Rock - Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

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With a really long timing period between waves at a whopping 15 to 17 seconds, the National Weather Service (NWS) is issuing a beach hazards statement for the entire Oregon coast and south Washington coast through to Saturday evening.

The NWS said this meets its criteria for dangerous wave situations.

“Waves can run up significantly farther on a beach than normal, including over rocks and jetties. Sneaker waves can suddenly knock people off of their feet and quickly pull them into the frigid ocean which may lead to serious injury or drowning,” the NWS said.

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Watch those waves if you're out on areas like Gold Beach, Port Orford, Newport, Long Beach or Cannon Beach. Especially be watchful of children, the NWS said.

“Waves may also lift driftwood logs, trapping anyone caught underneath,” the NWS said.

All this comes as a lot of warm weather hits Oregon and Washington, seeing the last weekend of winter go out with quite the spring feel. It's quite likely to reach near 70 in some coastal areas. Washington / Oregon Coast Headed for Sunny, Warm Stretch - Portland Mid 70s - Some parts of the coast may reach 70

Beyond the pleasant weather, this is a curious situation in other ways, too. Whereas most sneaker wave dangers happen with offshore wave height over 10 feet, this time it's westerly swells at a mere 5 to 8 feet. However, it's those periods between waves that allow sets of them to bunch up into one big wave with a lot of energy.

“Conditions are on the marginal side but given the pleasant forecasted conditions it is likely more people will be out an about along the northern OR/southern WA coasts and unaware of the potential danger of sneaker waves,” the NWS said.

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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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