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Last of King Tides This Week: Dates Different on Oregon Coast, Washington Coast

Published 01/15/23 at 5:39 AM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Last of King Tides This Week: Dates Different on Oregon Coast, Washington Coast

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(Manzanita, Oregon) – The last round of this season's King Tides will be hitting the Washington coastline and the Oregon coast this weekend, but be aware the dates are different for each this time around. Normally, dates mostly coincide for astronomical highest tides of the year, but this time there are some sizable shifts. (Above: Westport, Wash. during King Tides, courtesy Shian Klassen / Washington Sea Grant)

Once again, experts in both states are hoping to get volunteers out there to photograph what happens.

For all of the Oregon coast and Ilwaco in Washington, king tides happen January 20 – 22. From South Bend in Washington up to where the Pacific Ocean meets the Salish Sea, king tides hit the Washington coast from January 21 – 23. Tides will be at 9.5 feet to 10 feet there. Along the inland seas (like Seattle, Olympia, etc), these mostly take place January 22 – 24.

Long Beach sits somewhere between that dividing line and has major high tides from the 20th through the 25th, with the higher numbers the 23rd through 25th.

On the Washington coast, submit photos to https://mycoast.org/wa. On the Oregon coast, submit them to www.oregonkingtides.net or the project’s Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/orkingtide/albums.

King tides is more of a layman's term for what are actually known as perigean spring tides, referring to the highest tides of the year. They are created when the moon and sun line up just right, and their combined gravitational force yanks at the tides much more than any other time of year.

Still, king tides can be duds, so to speak. There are plenty of times they don't live up to their dramatic reputation. Others, they create monsters slamming into the beaches along with flooding, depending on what winter storms do. The last two sessions, the Oregon coast and Washington coast also got hit by major swells offshore, which resulted in more than 30-foot waves.

There are plenty of web trolls and anti-science conspiracy nuts who balk at such headlines online, but they lack the capability to understand some basics about tides and how they're measured. They're spreading misinformation and if you see such claims about wave height not being correct you should ignore it. In fact, not ignoring them can be dangerous for you. If you hit the beach anyway, you could be swept up.

“30-foot” waves doesn't necessarily mean a wall of water that height is coming onshore. That's how swells are measured offshore, but they get broken down by the slopes of beaches leading up the sands. See wave height on Oregon coast / Washington coast explained.

Whether or not these tides turn out to be beach Godzilla's or tidal kittens depends on all sorts of factors.


Coos Bay, courtesy Robert Moore, Oregon King Tides

In the meantime, those at the Oregon King Tides project and Sea Grant in Washington State are hoping to get photogs out there in good numbers to document the sea rise. These extra bursts of tidal action can be predictors on how climate change is affecting the northwest coastlines, and what they may be like in the future.

The Oregon Coastal Management Program (OCMP) and Washington Sea Grant have created tools to assist communities in planning for these impacts and continues to lead a community science effort documenting the region's king tides.

The key to all this is safety, however. Stay off the beaches during these events and stick to higher ground – and not the edges of cliffs. Those can give way in storms or such tides. If major offshore swells happen, the National Weather Service (NWS) will likely issue high surf advisories or warnings. Heed those.


Seal Rock, courtesy Alex Derr / Oregon King Tides

On January 20 – 22, the Port Orford area will see the tides at around 9 feet, at different points between 9:30 a.m. to 11: 30 a.m. In Florence, these happen between 10 a.m. and noon at over 8 feet. Bandon will also be in that range. On the northern half of the coast, Netarts will be up around 8.5 feet for those days and Netarts will 10 feet in high tides.

Westport to La Push in Washington will see the tidal action at around 10 – 11 feet on January 22 through 24.

Exact offshore conditions are not available quite yet from the NWS, but so far the days leading up to king tides are showing some fairly heavy seas at around 15 feet. Oregon Coast Hotels for this event - South Coast Hotels - Where to eat - Maps - Virtual Tours


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Gleneden Beach, courtesy Bob Loewen Oregon King Tides

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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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