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30-foot Swells Offshore Spell Troubling Weekend for Oregon Coast, Washington Coast

Published 01/07/2020 at 5:05 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

30-foot Swells Offshore Spell Troubling Weekend for Oregon Coast, Washington Coast

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(Oregon Coast) – This weekend is three days of King Tides for the Oregon coast, which means some walloping waves and dangerous conditions along the entire 362 miles of Oregon and the Washington coast as well. From January 10 – 12 (Friday through Sunday), there is an enormous high tide that’s three to five feet higher than normal, augmented greatly by offshore waves of 25 feet high or more and long period swells.

Look for crazy beach conditions well out of the norm and flooding along both coastlines. This one is like the mother of king tides.

It’s a wild set of astronomical and meteorological alignments that’s happening. Earth will be closest to the moon and to the sun, causing extra high tides. Then on top of that, swells of 40 feet or more will be descending down from Alaska, becoming offshore swells of 30 feet or so by the time they reach the Pacific Northwest.

On the upper half of the Oregon coast, the National Weather Service said 30-foot swells offshore are likely, propelled even further by what is likely to be sizable period swells, meaning the timing between swells. The Washington coast may get a little less intense wave action, but not by much. The southern Oregon coast is already under a high surf warning and this is a possibility for the northern half.

Look for the likelihood of extreme dangers on beaches, coupled with flooding in various areas near the shore (such as pathways or the vegetation line), including rivers. Smaller beaches with no clear exit behind them will be a big no-no - such as Gleneden Beach or Oceanside.

The NWS in Portland explained that a deep low system is coming down from the Bearing Sea and then to British Columbia.

“As this system moves southeastward it will produce significant wave heights 35-45 ft within the southwest quadrant of the storm,” the NWS said. “The ENP is still showing significant wave heights near 30 ft arriving to the waters Saturday and the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts has gone up to around 28 ft. Confidence is starting to increase with moderate to high confidence in wave heights being greater than 25 ft. This event will be happening during a king tide.”

See Best Lodgings for Storm Watching on Oregon Coast

Down on the southern Oregon coast, they’ve already issued a high seas watch offshore for mariners, in effect Friday through Sunday from Florence down through Cape Blanco. The NWS is pointing to slightly smaller combined seas through the weekend but noting long period swells of 16 seconds, which definitely spells trouble for beaches. Smaller pocket beaches like those off the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor will be downright deadly.

Along the Washington coast, conditions aren’t as dramatic, where combined seas only reach to around 11 feet and a dominant period 11 seconds on Friday, easing up to 16 feet and then a whopping 20 feet on Saturday and Sunday. Extra caution should be exercised along Washington beaches as well.

See Washington Coast Weather - Oregon Coast Weather
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