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Increased Sneaker Wave Dangers Along Oregon Coast Through Jan. 12

Published 01/11/22 at 5:02 PM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Increased Sneaker Wave Dangers Along Oregon Coast Through Jan. 12

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(Oregon Coast) – From Brookings up through the southern Washington coast, the entire Oregon coast is under a greater threat of sneaker waves through tomorrow night (Wednesday), according to the National Weather Service (NWS). While there is no official advisory or warning, the NWS has been vocal about the beach hazards on social media.

“Westerly swell arriving at the coast with a dominant period around 15 to 16 seconds,” the NWS said. "This is enough for a threat of sneaker waves along our beaches through tonight. The chances for sneaker waves diminish Wednesday.”

Sneaker waves can literally sneak up on you while you're on the sands, powering up the beach suddenly and with considerable force. They can knock you down and sometimes suck you back into the ocean.

Conditions offshore from the Oregon coastline are dictating what's happening on the sands. The NWS said seas 14 to 17 feet are occurring tonight, then later on Wednesday dropping to 12 to 14 feet high. When combined with a long dominant swell period (the timing between waves), this causes some waves to build up and become extra large and powerful.

When these waves hit the shoreline of the Washington coast or Oregon coast, there is nowhere for them to go but up the beach and towards any human walking on it.

The rule of “don't turn your back on the ocean” is much more important during this period.

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On the southern Oregon coast, wild wave conditions could be lasting a bit longer, at least for rocky areas that show off exceptional wave action, such as at Shore Acres. Offshore swells and high seas keep going a bit after Wednesday, said the NWS office in Medford (though it doesn't necessarily mean sneaker waves). However, rocky spots like Shore Acres may be seeing more hot tidal action.

“Winds will shift to the north and will probably ease on Thursday, but the west swell will remain steep through Thursday night,” the NWS said. “A thermal trough pattern sets up late this week into this weekend with gusty northerly winds and steep seas continuing, highest south of Cape Blanco.”

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Shore Acres photo courtesy Manuela Durson - see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more

Photos below courtesy Seaside Aquarium

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