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Caution Urged on Oregon Coast: Sneaker Wave Dangers This Weekend

Published 10/01/21 at 10:26 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Caution Urged on Oregon Coast: Sneaker Wave Dangers This Weekend

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(Oregon Coast) – Lots of sun will be giving way to some more clouds this weekend on the Oregon coast, but some slightly dangerous conditions are coming with an increased chance of sneaker waves from the south coast up through the southern Washington coast.

The National Weather Service (NWS) offices in Portland and Medford are talking about extra rough seas offshore as storm fronts approach the continent, bringing increased west winds and swells ahead of them.

“Those planning on taking advantage of the mild Fall weather or the abundance of razor clams by recreating along the beaches this weekend, need to be extra careful along the water line,” the NWS office in Portland said Friday night. “The ocean conditions are favorable for sneaker waves this weekend, especially on Sunday.”

On the southern Oregon coast, the Medford office of the NWS offered a similar warning.

“At the coast, surf will increase as west swell builds, so use caution at the beaches. Never turn your back on the ocean.”

Offshore, the swells will be reaching 10 to 12 feet by Sunday morning, although the NWS did not say if there was a particularly long timing between swells. They could not be reached on Friday night, but this is often what dictates a threat of sneaker waves. If the period between swells is a long time, perhaps longer than 15 seconds, that means they can build up considerably as they head onto shore, erupting in larger waves or sneaker waves.

Much of the Oregon coast is under one kind of offshore seas warning or another, with the upper part of the south coast under a small craft advisory and the bottom section under a hazardous seas warning. The border between the two lies at Cape Blanco.

The NWS said seas will rise to around 10-foot swells on Saturday but then die down.

“This break will be short lived, as a northwesterly swell increases seas back to 10 to 12 feet by Sunday morning,” the NWS said. “Seas will then stay up around 10 feet through Monday afternoon. In addition, northerly winds could gust as high as 20-25 kt Sunday afternoon and evening as a weak cold front pushes inland.”

See Oregon Coast Weather - Washington Coast Weather

Plenty of winds will be hitting the regions off the Oregon coast, but the beach towns won't see heavy winds.

“The strongest winds and very steep seas are expected to be south of Bandon and will last into Saturday morning,” the NWS said.

In general, weather on the Oregon coast beaches will remain rather pleasant and mostly dry, even getting more so in the early week. However, a somewhat stormy period will return, especially offshore.

“A frontal system will then arrive Tuesday, producing gusty, south winds, elevated seas and periods of rain,” the NWS said.

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