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UPDATED: Some Sun, Big Waves for Oregon Coast - Warnings After 2 Deaths

Published 12/26/2016 at 4:53 AM PDT - Updated 12/26/2016 at 4:54 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Some Sun, Big Waves for Oregon Coast - and a Safety Warning After 2 Deaths

(Oregon Coast) – UPDATED: to include corrected information on recent deaths. It looks like a fairly rainy and windy week for some of Whale Watch Week on the Oregon coast, with the central coast getting a bit more calm and sun than the north coast. Quite large waves are on the way, however, which could interfere with the ability to spot them, and a series of small craft warnings may keep the whale watch tours in harbor.

Still, the recipe of big breakers and spots of sun by midweek should be reason enough for a trip to the beaches.

However, these conditions and the events of the past week come with some warnings, as two people recently lost their lives on the Oregon coast because of not respecting the waves.

Whales are much harder to spot under these larger wave conditions, but the plus side is that there is a little more sun for central coast towns such as Lincoln City, Yachats or Newport, while the north coast will be a little rainier and cloudier for the week. But you can likely count on some sun breaks in places like Cannon Beach, Seaside and Manzanita as well.

The National Weather Service (NWS) in Portland has been holding fairly steady to the same predictions for the last few days. Tuesday through Friday looks to be mostly cloudy on the north coast, but the NWS is predicting partly sunny conditions along the central coast region. All those days include varying chances of rain showers. Both parts of the upper half of the coast should be looking at partly sunny skies to mostly sunny on Saturday – New Year's Eve.

Winds will be sizable, around 20 mph, until Wednesday, but they may pick up again later in the week.

Combined seas will get quite large on Tuesday, clocking in at 21 feet or so. Wind swells will remain long that day, meaning big wave action on the beaches and likely lots of erosion. On Wednesday and Thursday, seas will drop to more around 16 feet, which is still rather impressive, then dropping to about 15 feet on Friday.

“High pressure should bring quieter winds Wednesday, which should allow seas to subside into the low teens,” the NWS said.

Waves could get up to around 20 feet again for the weekend, the NWS said. Keep an eye on Oregon Coast Weather.

More agate beds may show up after such waves and breakers this size may not always affect safety on the beaches. At lower tides you can probably search for agates at many sandy spots, but keep an eye on those tides. Some beaches will be better than others. Those with more dangerous possibilities include Oceanside, and the smaller, thinner stretches of Newport, Gleneden Beach and Lincoln City. Unfortunately, these are often where some of the best agate beds are to be found.

If you see a lot of recently wet sand where the tide has been lately, stand back and watch what the waves do before you head out. If the tide line keeps scooting up the beach to an unsafe distance between it and any cliff wall or barrier, then don't go on that beach.


Last week, one man lost his life at a beach around Coos Bay, while a visitor was swept into the ocean at Thor's Well, just south of Yachats (above). Both happened within 24 hours of each other. The man's sister was also scraped up and injured trying to rescue her brother.

The area of Thor's Well – part of the Cook's Chasm access, beneath Cape Perpetua – is a rocky shelf where visitors get tempted to tread too close to the edges. They erroneously believe they're safe because they don't see many waves fire up over onto the rocky stretches, but even under calmer conditions this can happen anyway. It simply can take a while. Extremely large waves do come crashing over quite regularly. A good rule of thumb is that if you see large pools of fresh sea water on those outcroppings – do not go there. Especially if the pools start getting larger the closer you get to the edges. This means the waves have come over the sides in the last few hours and they will do so again.

Other such rocky ledges exist in the Depoe Bay area and from Yachats southward. Oregon Coast Hotels for this - Where to eat - Maps - Virtual Tours







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