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Various Beach Dangers on Oregon Coast / Washington Coast for Unusually-Long Period This Week

Published 12/24/23 at 5:55 a.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Various Beach Dangers on Oregon Coast / Washington Coast for Unusually-Long Period This Week

(Florence, Oregon) – Large swells offshore due to one storm after another combined with king tides will make for an unusually prolonged set of surf dangers along the Oregon coast and south Washington coast, bringing waves as high as 30 feet to the beaches down south and a high danger of sneaker waves up north and into Washington. (Above: Cape Disappointment, courtesy Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau)

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Summary: Extended period of beach dangers for Oregon coast and southern Washington coast. Sneaker wave danger through Friday; dangerous surf on south coast at least through Thursday. Waves as high as 25 – 28 feet on south Oregon coast, sneaker wave dangers from Florence through Raymond. Stay off beaches this week. Lincoln City's glass float drops may be cancelled (see their page)

All this will greatly impact the ability to see whales for Whale Watch Week along the Oregon coast, but it will also bring stunning wave action to places like Shore Acres at Coos Bay and Ilwaco's Cape Disappointment.

The National Weather Service (NWS) office in Portland has issued the sneaker wave threat statement for the upper half of the Oregon coast and southern part of Washington's coast, in effect through Friday. In fact, the NWS just extended that from its original expiration of Thursday early on Sunday morning.

Offshore waves will push beyond 20 feet, the NWS said, although king tides doesn't seem to have as much of an effect here as farther south.

“There is a high threat of sneaker waves through much of next week,” the NWS said. “This means some waves will run up beaches much higher than normal. Avoid jetties and logs.”

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Unlike the south Oregon coast, Washington (and the area including Seaside, Cannon Beach, Pacific City, Lincoln City and Newport) won't see waves much over 20 feet, at least not for very long. Yet the cause of this unusually-extended period is similar.

“A series of developing low pressure systems across the northeast Pacific this upcoming work week will result in a series of long period swells spreading across the waters at various points in time,” the NWS said.

Wave height for areas like Long Beach or Yachats will be more like 12 – 15 feet. However, the NWS there is a chance of tidal overflow around Raymond, Washington on Monday and again on December 16 and 27.

On the southern Oregon coast, beach conditions are a little more serious, with the NWS in Medford more certain of high waves causing erosion and various beach dangers. It is cause for a high surf advisory from Monday through late on Thursday, with breaking waves around 20 feet or more for a day or two, then waves as high as 28 feet.

The NWS said to expect hazardous conditions on beaches.

Yachats: Oregon Coast Beach Connection

Wind-driven waves offshore from a new storm front every 24 hours is behind much of this, but on the beaches it's amplified by the presence of king tides through December 27.

The NWS said it could still issue some flood warnings for the regions of Reedsport through Brookings, but tides so far aren't expected to go beyond 2.5 feet (the threshold for flooding messages).

“Given locally heavy rains greater than 1" are expected on Wednesday, Dec. 27 during a King tide, it is notimpossible for some roads that are exposed to the ocean or that run along the local sloughs to experience ponding from tidal wash,” the NWS said. “This is also the timeframe breaking waves are expected to peak Tuesday night.”

Conditions may improve on Friday, but the NWS is noting another system may come in about then.

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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