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Trippy Little Surprise of Oregon / Washington Coast: Summer Weather Gets Better Sept, Oct

Published 08/28/22 at 4:55 PM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Trippy Little Surprise of Oregon / Washington Coast: Summer Weather Gets Better Sept, Oct

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(Astoria, Oregon) – Get ready for more summer – after this one ends. Along the Oregon and Washington coast, summer doesn't just keep going in September and October, it actually gets better. Locals call this normally shoulder season “Second Summer,” but at times they refer to it as “our real summer,” especially in years where coastal conditions haven't acted like the season they're supposed to be in. (Above: Bandon. Photo Manuela Durson - see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more)

This month and a half to two months is known for the best weather of the year along the Washington coast or Oregon coast, with more days that feature almost no winds, more blue skies and warmer temps than usual. In fact, the extreme southern Oregon coast often lingers in the 80s on various days throughout that period.

See Oregon Coast Weather - Washington Coast Weather

This used to be a big secret, but now it's much better known and thus one salient, wonderful aspect has been slipping away: there were also sizably less crowds. Weekdays in September used to be downright balmy and yet with empty roads and beaches, but that's no longer the case. However, there's still less people than summer on weekdays, and once you get into October the numbers really start shrinking. It's then that you'll find yourself alone in absolutely stellar beach weather. Places like Westport, Long Beach, Bandon, or Newport can be teeming with ice cream cones, baby carriages, backpacks and selfie flashes on a Sunday, and in October Monday brings nary a soul. Streets and Highway 101 are practically empty.

Cape Meares looking down on Oceanside. Photo Oregon Coast Beach Connection

Beaches like those at Grayland, Coos Bay's Sunset Bay, Port Orford, Lincoln City and even bustling Seaside can be extremely thin in beachcombers, but head to more out-of-the-way spots like around Humbug, Gleneden Beach, northern Lane County or Seaview and you're practically living the castaway life.

Again, that doesn't happen as much in September as it used to; it's more of an October thing.

Meanwhile, temps linger more in the 70s this time of year, winds are drastically lower – and indeed, thanks to a variety of meteorological factors, the breezes can be Santa Ana-warm. This, in turn, brings other stellar aspects to your trip to coastal Washington or Oregon: more glowing sand possibilities and whale sightings.

These warmer ocean / air conditions can increase the blooms of glowing phytoplankton out there, and thus when you hit a beach at night, you run a higher chance of seeing the little green / blue flashes beneath your feet. See Bioluminescent Phytoplankton: What Makes Glowing Sand On Oregon Coast, Washington 

When it comes to whales, calmer wave conditions mean a greater chance of seeing them cavorting around areas like Seaside, Cannon Beach, Moclips, Port Orford, or Florence.

However, these great weather conditions are not a guarantee; it doesn't always happen like clockwork every year. There's a chance it may not happen this year or happen much. Yet in general, second summer runs from September through at least mid-October, if not longer in recent years.

Many visitors consider this is the best time to photograph on the Oregon coast and Washington coast, and with good cause. More clear, blue skies make for easier snapshots or art shots.

All around, this time of year is considered the best time to head out here, because of the weather, the lesser crowds and even lower lodging prices.

That part gets tricky, however. September used to see a big drop-off but now with many weekends as bustling as summer, prices on the coastlines don't sink as much of as fast as they once did. Those price incentives start happening more in October now. On the southern Oregon coast and much of the Washington coast the demand isn't as great. You'll find more price drops in September in those areas.

Glowing waves near Gold Beach. Photo above courtesy Steven Smith / Solution 7 Media

There's a whole fascinating science behind Second Summer. In short, the ocean has been heating up all summer, and in September the inland areas start dropping. Now, there's less of a temperature difference between the valleys and the coastlines. Those differences drive things like fog on the coast, higher winds, and others. But now those elements of weather are lessened.

So you get less of that fog that sometimes plagues summer. You get less clouds, and those winds are often coming from the east – which is warmer – and then they're further warmed up by the heat of the Oregon Coast Range or Willapa Hills of the Washington coast.

These weaker wind patterns from the north or west also allow warmer winds from California up here – yet another warming factor. You can sometimes feel the warm winds from the south hitting your face, and it's delightful. MORE PHOTOS BELOW

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Empty beach at Neskowin in Second Summer

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