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King Tides May Bring Monsters This Weekend to Oregon Coast, Washington Coast

Published 12/09/20 at 4:55 M PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

King Tides May Bring Monsters This Weekend to Oregon Coast, Washington Coast

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(Portland, Oregon) – This month’s King Tides session along the Oregon and Washington coast promises to be a biggie, maybe even larger than usual. In Washington and Oregon, the king tides happen December 13 to 15 along the coastlines, while Washington’s inland seas / Puget Sound see it on December 15 to 17. (Above: last months' king tides at Coquille Point, courtesy Rick Poecker)

Higher-than-normal tides always come in these late fall / winter months, caused by a combination of astronomical factors: the moon’s orbit coming closest to the earth, the earth’s orbit is closest to the sun, and the sun, moon and earth are in alignment, thereby increasing their gravitational influence on the tides.

It all means 9 to 11-foot tides along the mid day and late mornings of Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, bringing mammoth waves and undoubtedly dangerous conditions.

Photo courtesy Kris Hurrle

Look for your favorite beaches to become inhospitable and covered in swirling seas, along with huge waves breaking at cliffside areas such as Depoe Bay, Shore Acres, Yachats, Washington’s Cape Disappointment or much of the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor.

On top of all this, the National Weather Service (NWS) is looking at a set of wave height predictions that could mean sizably larger waves. Another storm system is moving nearshore about Saturday or Sunday and could up the watery explosions. Scott Weishaar, a meteorologist with the NWS, told Oregon Coast Beach Connection the models are still too vague to pin down, but it does look more likely that 12 to 20-foot waves will be rambling offshore, which would still add considerable power to the already-enormous tides.

On the other hand, one model is suggesting a mere 14-foot wave height offshore, while another brings the possibility of 20 – 35-foot waves. That latter scenario would be mean extremely dangerous conditions along the Oregon coast and Washington coast.

King tides in Washington and Oregon also mean the King Tides Project, where citizens are asked to photograph the tidal melee and submit them to the appropriate site.

For the Washington coast, the King Tides submission site is where you can also download the app to upload your shots.

For Oregon’s coastline, use

At both sites you can browse the insane images of flooding and beaches being overrun in each state.

For Washington coast king tides table see this link.

For Oregon coast tide tables use

Places to look out for:

Westport, Washington. The high reef and barrier sections of town yield incredible monsters that look like they’ll swallow the entire place at first, but then they dissipate.

Cape Disappointment, Washington. Unbelievable wave height happens here, where they look towering and imposing. Luckily, they’re far from the parking lot, although do watch for flooding there.

North Oregon Coast: Large rocky structures like Cannon Beach’s Haystack Rock, Silver Point or Arcadia will show off their wild sides. Hug Point may get completely filled up and resemble the Devil’s Punchbowl down south. Cape Kiwanda and Oceanside have large rocky promontories that bear the brunt of the waves and cause spectacular explosions. - Virtual Tours

Central Oregon Coast: Watching jetties (from far away – stay at least 100 feet back) at places like Newport or Florence will yield wowing sights. Yachats and Depoe Bay are two rocky cliff spots that promise plenty of action. - Virtual Tours

Southern Oregon Coast: Shore Acres is of course the big show on the whole coastline, where gargantuan waves occur even without major tidal events. High reef areas like Simpson’s Reef / Cape Arago and all those sea stack areas along Bandon, Port Orford and Gold Beach will provide insane drama.

Oregon Coast Hotels for this event - Where to eat - Map - Virtual Tour

However, whatever you do, keep safety in mind first, said Washington Sea Grant’s Bridget Trosin.

“Please just remember to stay safe by watching out for waves and slippery surfaces,” she said.

For safety’s sake, Oregon Coast Beach Connection urges you to stay off any sandy beach during this time period, but rather stick to areas above them.

WEATHER: Conditions look to be rainy, breezy and cloudy for all three king tides days along the entire Oregon and Washington coast. See Oregon Coast Weather - Washington Coast Weather

Above: Hug Point is smothered in waves - photo courtesy Steven Bash

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