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Three Unusual Weather Sights of the Oregon Coast

Published 12/26/2018 at 8:43 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Three Unusual Weather Sights of the Oregon Coast

(Oregon Coast) – These beaches can often pull strange and surreal surprises. Not simply that which is unexpected, but Mother Nature here can be downright Dadaist or experimental in the truest traditions of the avant garde.

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It often takes the right conditions of weather and a good deal of chance.

Here are three such weather-related oddities, not only eyebrow-raising but delightfully unusual as well.

The first comes with some glorious explanations from Seaside Aquarium’s Tiffany Boothe; others were unusual moments discovered firsthand by Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff.

Seaside sometimes has a brown waves problem – that actually isn’t a problem at all. And it's somewhat related to weather, but not entirely. Periodically, after some rainstorms, waves get brown to really brown, even to the point of getting a weird kind of gooey, chunky dark brown that looks oily or sludgy. This can alarm visitors to the north Oregon coast, who think it’s pollution. All of this may appear in an area as wide as Cannon Beach up to Warrenton and Hammond, around Fort Stevens.

“Looking down the beach you may notice that only a small section of the water is brown,” Boothe said. “At other times the whole surf zone looks like a muddy mess. What you are looking at when the diatoms have stained the surf brown is a bloom. Diatoms and other phytoplankton are always in the surf but certain ocean and weather conditions can create a 'bloom.' During these periods the diatoms or phytoplankton are reproducing at astonishing rates, but eventually the reproduction will slow and the bloom will disappear. Sand dollars and razor clams thrive where conditions are likely to produce blooms here and there.”

It turns out, this kind of phytoplankton bloom is a good thing: it’s a sign of a healthy ocean that all these critters erupt in such big numbers.

For a long time, visitors would get a bit worried and inquire around town. Seaside city officials finally put up signs explaining the phenomena.

What’s happening here is really unique to this part of the Oregon coast: you don’t see it anywhere else along the beaches very often. When and if it happens on the central coast, it usually has to do with some kind of river run-off of silt and sediment, causing brown streaks in the waves. Some stormy conditions can occasionally create the same brown bubble effect, having been documented in Newport and around Depoe Bay in somewhat rare instances.


Surreal Sunset, Seaside. Sunsets are always dramatic and addictive fun on the Oregon coast, but they do can some astounding things if the clouds are in the right positions. Often, clouds can hide the sun all day, making for those legendary (or notorious) dreary days along the beaches. But then a small break in the clouds near the horizon sets the world on fire once the sun finds it.

In this case, such a thing happened in Seaside one day about 2003. One of the more surreal sights, ever. Ever.

Red Sky, Rainbow and Lightning. The coast can create the strangest weather systems, probably because this is where the inland and the oceanic systems collide. Sometime in spring 2002, this scene presented itself just east of Pacific City. A crazy, angry bank of clouds was moving in from the east, while the coastal sunset hit it with wild colors and tinted it with pinks and reds. Rain was beginning to fall, and lightning could be seen in the distance. For a brief time, this collection of conditions created a rainbow in the midst of this almost sepia-toned moment.

Its blues and greens were largely cut out by the fierce cast of the reds from behind, but it was still visible: a strange and surreal reminder of how dynamic and unique the coastal environment is.

Down the road, in Neskowin, the lightning was directly overhead, and created the most thunderous, cataclysmic noise imaginable. Oregon Coast Lodgings in these areas - Where to eat - Maps - Virtual Tours



 


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