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Weird Interactions of Oregon Coast Weather and Tideline

Published 03/15/2019 at 5:53 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Weird Interactions of Oregon Coast Weather and Tideline

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In Seaside:
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In Cannon Beach:
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In Manzanita, Wheeler, Rockaway Beach:
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In Yachats, Florence
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(Oregon Coast) – In the world of weather, the Oregon coast is one of the more dynamic and puzzling spots. There’s a lot going on there – much that would surprise. (Above: Gleneden Beach)

One of these aspects is how the temperatures can change between the tideline and the vegetation line, or certainly between there and the town itself. Some parts of this are obvious and some are full of some eyebrow-raising facets.

In summer, it often works like you imagine it would - and yet it’s more complex than that. A town like Manzanita, Cannon Beach or Newport – with sands very close to the sidewalks of city streets – you can drastically cool down when you get next to the water. On those rare occasions when it gets into the 80s or even 90s, being next to the ocean – often just a few hundred feet – can put you in the midst of cooling winds and a ten-degree or more temp drop.

Usually, this cools you down. However, in some instances, being up against the tideline can make things a lot warmer. If there's little to no wind and there’s a lot of sun, it's warmer next to the ocean. That's because the sands and the sea reflect the sun back.

This phenomenon is even wilder in February, when winter can at times dissipate and the beaches can be at their most heated until summertime. Under these conditions, the town streets can be in the 40s or 50s, but if there's no wind and the sun is just right, the beaches feel more like the 60s.

These are times you really have to worry about sunscreen, too. Even though the temps may be in the 50s or 60s, the sun is reflecting back enough to begin cooking your skin.

Conversely, Oregon coast weather is often more maniacal and even uncomfortable at the tideline during windy days. Here, and atop big headlands like at Newport or near Oceanside, you’re more exposed to the elements.

Even so, another interesting element can come into play with steady or even wild winds: being beneath a headland. Standing close to Tillamook Head at Seaside can thoroughly block the winds, if they’re coming from the south. Conversely, if they’re coming from the north, spots like Oceanside’s Maxwell Point or Newport’s Yaquina Head can shield you from the atmospheric madness.

However, you often have to be fairly close to the headland for this to take effect. Still, for those wanting to lay in the sun a bit and attempt a tan on a windy but sunny day, it’s a good guideline. It works, if the temps are right.

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