Oregon Coast Ready for Best Weather of Year, 'Second Summer'
Cape Foulweather, near Depoe Bay
(Oregon Coast) – It is probably the biggest and best kept secret about the Oregon coast: September and October are the most pleasant times of the year, so much so it’s called the “Second Summer.”
This part of late summer and early fall means the coast is literally at its warmest, with more blue skies, less wind and more pleasant conditions than at any other time of the year. On top of it all, this clandestine season also boasts glittering bits of good news in the realms of whales, lodging prices, lesser crowds, traffic and much more.
This year, with an especially lackluster summer that gloomily featured more clouds than blue, this phenomenon will be quite the welcome sight. While it doesn't exactly happen like clockwork every year, it is likely the coast will get a good run of warm temps and awesome conditions, in spite of this summer’s poor performance on the beaches.
The second summer occurs because of a lovely set of coinciding weather circumstances. The valley cools off, but coastal waters have been warmed up by the season’s heat. This evens out the temperature differences between the two, allowing warmer air flows from the east and from California to help warm things up even more. This evening out of temperatures also decreases upwelling, which in turn decreases wind, while less differences in temperature kill out that phenomenon that sucks in unevaporated air off the ocean, which is what makes things look so foggy during the summer.
The cruel irony for all the kids back in school at this time: it’s typically hotter now than during July and August along the beaches.
Weather experts say this usually lasts well into October, with the middle of the month generally being a turning point towards more blustery weather. However, in 2004, those summer-like conditions lasted well into the last few days of the month. Perhaps it’s global warming, perhaps it’s not: but this phenomenon seems to be lasting a bit longer in many of the past few years.
For most lodgings, prices begin diving in September, although you may find a few that don’t drop substantially until October or later. As the whole second summer phenomenon becomes better known, more and more rentals, hotels and motels are starting to push their price drops out a little further. In fact, Seaside is busy enough throughout September that most businesses there don’t drop much in that month.
A good rule of thumb is that the more expensive the place, the more it will drop in price. Less expensive hotels or motels will drop less.
Still, the coast will gradually lessen in lodging prices in most cases, according to Lorna Davis, director of the Newport Chamber of Commerce.
“You don’t see a drop in price immediately after Labor Day, because when you start to see a decline in tourists, and the lodgings aren’t always full, then you start to see a drop,” Davis said. “Certainly after September 15 there are some reductions, there are more discounts, and you’re more apt to find two-for-the-price-of-one specials to entice people to come out. This also a really good time to book conferences and meetings, and you see a lot of those happening because the lodgings aren’t as packed, or they are attracted to the place by the lodgings’ sales efforts.”
In Manzanita, San Dune Inn owner Brian Hines is looking forward to what the “second summer” can bring to the coast, noting many retirees and RV’ers partake in the amenities of this time of year.
“This should be of particular interest to the ‘Buick’ crowd who seem to surface and start to travel after school starts,” Hines said. “We at the beach should have a good second summer, assuming, of course, the weather co-operates somewhat.”
Keith Chandler, manager of Seaside Aquarium, noted he sees more whales wandering these waters at this time of year than at any other. “Not because there are more whales,” he quickly adds. “But because the east winds make for less white caps and calmer waters, so it’s easier to spot them.”
Also in Seaside, Seaside Helicopters keeps busy in this stretch of magnificent weather. It all makes for ideal flying conditions for his aerial tours of Cannon Beach and Seaside. Hwy 101 - just south of Seaside. www.seaside-helicopters.com. (503) 440-4123.
“Fishing season will be in full swing here on the Nehalem Bay,” said Winston Laszlo, a Nehalem Bay resident. “We'll be seeing them from the windows of the hotels wrestling some big fish into their boats.”
Dining outdoors will be in big demand. Pacific Oyster in Bay City provides an intoxicating experience for this right on the Tillamook Bay. Since it’s a ways inland, this area is often the recipient of better weather, if the beaches are socked in by fog or mist.
Newport has the most outdoor dining spots on the coast – somewhere around 14 or more. Cannon Beach has the next largest chunk with around 10.
For a serious surreal surprise, this time of year can be your best chance to spot the “glowing sands” on the coast. What you see is small, faint bluish/green sparks at your feet when you move them around the sand. Or sometimes, if you move your hands around bays like Nehalem Bay, there will be a strange bluish glowing trail behind your hand.
At the heart of this are creatures that are a form of phytoplankton called dinoflagellates – part of the family of microscopic plants that form the bottom of the food chain for marine life. This particular brand is bioluminescent, meaning they give off a glow when disturbed or bumped through internal chemistry processes, much in the same way a firefly does.
They tend to hit Oregon’s beaches in warmer periods when nutrients can be more abundant, while more sunlight can help “charge them up.”
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