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Oregon Coast's Manzanita is Open for Biz with Wild Scenery Changes, Sights

Published 10/27/2016 at 4:41 AM PDT - Updated 10/27/2016 at 5:41 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

come to Manzanita and support its businesses

(Manzanita, Oregon) – A mere four or five days after an EF2 tornado tore up parts of Manzanita, the rustic-yet-ritzy little north Oregon coast town had cleaned up the streets and was ready to receive visitors. But mixed messages from town and tourism officials about whether or not Manzanita was blocked off – and sometimes no message at all – left local businesses looking at a dim and dark week or more. Lodging cancellations abounded and empty stores looked like the new normal. (Above: Manzanita is cleaned up and open for business).

Now, the one clear message the town is trying to get through is that Manzanita is open for business. Many are asking how to help the town rebuild some of its businesses and those displaced by damaged buildings. The resounding answer is “come to Manzanita and support its businesses.”

Photo courtesy Sunset Vacation Rentals: Manzanita just after the tornado. Note the lack of trees. The streets are cleaned up completely now.

There is still plenty of misinformation and a lack of answers from officials regarding when police had stopped blocking entrance to the town. Also, Oregon Coast Beach Connection has received no response about perhaps the most important thing visitors will care about: the interesting changes in its natural surroundings you can gawk at.

Manzanita before the tornado: lots of trees in the skyline.

It turns out, there are some remarkable changes on these beaches and in the town's ecosystem. There is plenty to look at here that is new – although not necessarily because of the tornado. The storms of that week shifted a lot of things around.

There's a weird trench dug into the beach, the sands have moved in some interesting ways – and one third of the trees in town are gone.

Larry Wiedenhoft is a resident of Manzanita, an EMT with the local fire district and a responder with the Red Cross. He's also a CoastWatch mile adopter, meaning he volunteers for the group to help monitor beaches.

He said the most striking thing that's different about the north Oregon coast hotspot is how it looks now with that many trees gone.

“Living in Manzanita was like living in the forest,” he said. “We had neighbors close by but really couldn't see them for all of the 50 to 60-foot trees around the houses. It's the reason that many of us chose this place to live. With all the trees gone, I can now see all of the houses up and down my street and the next streets over. As one person said, it's like living in a brand new subdivision but all of the houses are older. Many people still don't recognize the street that they live on. On the positive side, we can now see the stars at night. Didn't used to be able to do that.”

You can still see remains of some of the larger trees that were snapped off, which Wiedenhoft said shows just how powerful that twister was.

Interestingly enough, Wiedenhoft said the tornado didn't do much to the beaches. But the stormy waves and heavy rains of that week did.

One of the more striking sights is a giant gouge in the sand, near the bottom of Laneda Ave. It's been described as about ten feet wide and four feet deep.

An erroneous rumor on the internet is still bouncing around that this is from the tornado. It's not. Perhaps even more remarkably, it's storm runoff from the streets above that carved it. It's still there for visitors to check out – and it is impressive. Manzanita Hotels in this area - Where to eat - Maps and Virtual Tours

“After any big storm it carves out an ever changing landscape,” Weidenhoft said. “It is also at the beach access that most people use, it's always an adventure to see what the new path to the beach will be at that point.”

Weidenhoft said it does that with every big storm, and in recent years the gouges have gotten inexplicably larger. It will soon fill in, so you'll want to come out soon to see it.

On the beaches, those large blobs of sand that kept the tide at bay during the summer have largely disappeared, flattening things out and bringing the tide line back to a normal place.

Weidenhoft said so far there hasn't been any large-scale erosion or major changes to the beaches, aside from taking away the sand that summer dumped onto the area. However, Seaside Aquarium and others are reporting lots of storm-tossed oddities, such as the filament-like tubes from cellophane worms, jellyfish and other debris. This is happening all over the Oregon coast, including Manzanita.

What's truly interesting with the beach changes is what is has not changed – and this may alter the beach in the future.

“The seaward bars of sand that build up in the summer are eroding but the grass covered dunes behind them are still intact,” Wiedenhoft said. “A new seaward sand bar started just north of Laneda this year and it seems to be holding. If it lasts the winter it could be the beginning of a new foredune.”

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