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Video: Two Fun and Weird Facts About Weather and the Sun on Oregon, Washington Coast

Published 06/28/020 at 5:44 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Video: Two Fun and Weird Facts About Weather and the Sun on Oregon, Washington Coast

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(Portland, Oregon) – We live in a world and indeed a universe where facts are stranger than fiction, especially when it comes to science. Forget all that manufactured awe of Stargate, Star Trek or Narnia: the real world has got the freaky stuff goin’ on. (Above: Cape Meares near Oceanside, looking down on Short Beach).

Such is the case with what happens to weather on Pacific Northwest beaches in early fall and what’s really going on with that giant orb that heats us and provides us with energy.

Second Summer in Fall. Here’s one you probably didn’t know: early fall is actually the warmest time of the year on the Oregon coast and up north in Washington, and in general the best weather. It’s when temps are at their highest, winds are at their very least intrusive, and to add to the fun the place starts seeing less and less people as the weather gets better than inland. It's called the "Second Summer."


Not that this happens every year, but generally September and early October bring the bluest skies. Some years this doesn’t take place, like the set of freak storms in one September that caused the cancellation of the SOLVE Beach Cleanup.

Note: this was created during a Second Summer month

The science behind the second summer is an intriguing set of coinciding meteorological circumstances. The valley cools off, but coastal waters have been warmed up by the summer’s heat. This evens out the temperature differences between the two, allowing warmer air flows from the east and from California to help warm things up even more. This evening out of temperatures also decreases upwelling, which in turn decreases wind. Meanwhile, less differences in temperature kill out that phenomena that sucks in unevaporated air off the ocean, which is what makes things look so foggy during the summer.

The end result is an Oregon coast with a set of conditions that allow warmer air in from other places and downright balmy days. Farther down the coast, around Brookings, the effect is absolutely tropical, with 80s or 90s not uncommon at times. In fact, once you get into Coos Bay and Bandon things are generally warmer than up north in Lincoln City or Cannon Beach.

Weird Sunset Fact of Oregon / Washington Beaches. Sunset actually happens about seven or so minutes later than in the valley or anywhere along the I-5 corridor. The same is true for the Washington coast as well: since places like Olympia, Portland, Eugene and Ashland are about 70 to 80 miles inland sunsets will be later. The difference between Seattle and the Olympic Peninsula beaches will be even longer.

There are other numerous factors that go into the time differences as well, which include all sorts of topography issues like mountain ranges between you and the coastline. Or in the case of an area close to downtown Portland: the west hills cause a much earlier sunset. However, almanac and online sunset times go by a sunset based on the idea of a flat surface.

Oregon Coast Beach Connection checked it out one year on the longest day of the year and found the sunset time listed for Portland was seven minutes earlier than the sun actually went down in Warrenton.

So, if you want an extra few minutes of daylight – especially in those winter days – start your day inland. There, sunrise happens a tad earlier. Then head to the beaches for about seven minutes more of daylight at the end of the day.

For some even more startling beach astronomy / sun facts, see Why Oregon Coast Sunsets Are An Illusion.

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