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Oregon and Washington Coasts: Mix of Surf, Wind, Flood Warnings, Chance of Snow

Published 01/09/2020 at 6:45 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Oregon and Washington Coasts: Mix of Surf, Wind, Flood Warnings, Chance of Snow

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(Portland, Oregon) - UPDATE: Both halves of the Oregon coast are now under high surf warnings with 35-foot waves possible New Surf Warnings for Oregon Coast; What's Closed Down, Video High surf, king tides and the possibility of snow on the beaches are the big headlines, but coastal flooding and other advisories or warnings are in the wings as well. There are a variety of issues affecting the Oregon and Washington coast, coming this weekend and in the days after.

Thanks to an unusual planetary alignment of sorts, the Oregon coast is looking at probably the highest tides of the year. The Earth is at its closest to the sun and the moon over the weekend, adding three to five feet to the usual high tide, but beyond that enormous offshore swells will be adding extra big surges and flooding to the beaches and areas nearby. The Washington coast doesn’t appear to be affected as harshly as Oregon.

The National Weather Service (NWS) offices in Medford, Seattle and Portland have issued a variety of watches and warnings.

Surf Warnings, Surges. Currently, the southern Oregon coast (including Gold Beach, Bandon, etc) are under a high surf warning, in effect from 10 p.m. Friday through 10 p.m. Saturday. Dangerously large breaking waves of 28 to 32 feet are likely on the south coast, according to the NWS.

“Waves will inundate beaches and surge into normally dry areas. Infrastructure damage and significant beach erosion can be expected,” the NWS said.

On the north and central Oregon coast, offshore swells of 25 feet or more start kicking in on Friday and peaking on Saturday. The NWS told Oregon Coast Beach Connection that wave height onshore will be around 25 feet at times, and that a surf advisory or warning is still being considered for that time period.

All this coincides with the king tides and the resultant occasional surges may be higher than 25 feet.

“The very high tides and strong winds associated with this system have the potential to create minor tidal overflow and create hazardous surf conditions through the weekend,” the NWS said. “The times of highest tides will be around noon each day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The greatest impacts will likely be within a couple of hours before or after these high tides.”

Coastal Flooding. The southern Washington coast and the north and central Oregon coast are under a coastal flood advisory, in effect 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday. The highest tides will be about 11 a.m.

“Minor flooding, up to one foot above ground level, during high tides is expected in the low lying areas near bays, sloughs, and the lower reaches of the coastal rivers,” the NWS said.

Flood advisories extend from about Florence on the central Oregon coast up through the bulk of the Washington coast, including the Olympic Peninsula.

High Wind Warning. Only the northern Washington coastline is under a high wind warning, in effect from 1 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday. South winds of around 30 to 45 mph along with gusts up to 60 mph are possible. This includes the towns of La Push, Clearwater, Neah Bay and Aberdeen.

Along the southern Washington coast and the rest of the Oregon coast, it will be breezy at about 25 mph over the weekend but not excessive for those areas. Portland will be getting higher-than-normal winds, however.

Snow on Beaches / Coast Range. Forecast models from the NWS are still not settling in as to whether there will be snow on the valley floor much less the beaches, but with strong confidence it is predicting heavy snow in the Cascades and some small amounts in the coast range passes of Oregon and Washington. The NWS said it still has confidence in some low level snow in the middle of the week in places like Portland or Salem, and it has made reference to the possibilities of snow levels reaching to 300 feet in the early week. This would spell a fair amount of snow for the coast range and maybe a small dusting on the beaches. This includes the southern Oregon coast

Stay tuned to the Oregon Coast Weather and Washington Coast Weather pages for bulletins.

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Snow photo courtesy Seaside Aquarium

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