First Big Wave Storm: Predictions Show Oregon and Washington Coast Will See Its First Major Wave Storm, With Waves Approaching 30 Feet. Waves along the coasts of Oregon and Washington appear set to send 2016 out with a thud. The combination of period swells that are relatively long and waves that can reach heights of over 20 feet means that there is a good chance of significant erosion and beach safety warnings due to sneaker waves.
First Big Wave Storm With Waves Up to 30 Feet
Starting Sunday night and continuing through Wednesday, the National Weather Service (NWS) offices in Seattle, Portland, and Medford predict extremely high wave height offshore.
There will be many gale warnings and/or small craft advisories issued for the nearshore areas on Sunday when seas reach 15 to 20 feet along the northern Oregon coast and half of the Washington coastline. The winds will be strong enough to cause damage at sea by that night or Monday, but the beaches won’t be affected quite as much. In contrast, large waves are caused by strong winds out at sea.
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The National Weather Service office in Portland has predicted “active weather” for the final week of December, with another powerful frontal system arriving on Tuesday. To what extent the winds will blow depends on the path a surface low takes. Strong gales, possibly reaching storm force, will persist through Monday night and Tuesday. On Tuesday, waves are expected to be between 22 and 27 feet high. Wednesday will see seas in the high teens, and Thursday will have seas in the low to middle teens.
It’s possible that the waves that reach the shores of Ocean Park, Manzanita, Shore Acres State Park, and Gold Beach will be slightly smaller than predicted by the NWS, as they can lose intensity as they approach the coast.
High tide on Sunday could bring waves as high as 20 feet to the coast between Raymond, Washington, and Newport, Oregon. High intervals of 14 seconds will separate swells, resulting in sneaker waves on top of the larger ones.
When there is a significant amount of time between swells, the waves have a greater potential of accumulating energy into a single large wave that can cause significant damage to the shore from a wider distance. That’s why we call them “sneaker waves.”
On Monday, the swell period will be around 15 seconds and the total seas will be about 19 feet. The prognosis for Tuesday is the same, but the greatest values in this area might reach slightly over 20 feet on Wednesday.
Further south down the coast of Oregon, the waves are predicted to be much more extreme.
Long-period swells reach heights of 15 feet on Sunday and nearly 20 feet on Monday. NWS forecasters in Medford have warned that something even more devastating is on the way to the southern coast.
The NWS warned of “dangerous sea conditions” due to “high-end gales” that “may reach storm force.” The combination of a long-period west swell and strong south winds will produce waves that are both high and steep. There’s mounting information that Tuesday’s seas will exceed 30 feet north of Cape Blanco. Dangerous surf is expected along the Oregon coast from Monday morning through Wednesday morning as a result of the high wave heights. Maximum high waves might hit on Tuesday afternoon/evening.
Although no beach advisories have been issued as of yet, the NWS is expected to soon do so for much of the Washington coast (and possibly all of it) south to Brookings, Oregon.
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This means that storms may be watched from just about everywhere, so long as you remain off the beach and on higher ground. The best places to watch from a distance are rocky outcrops. The rocky areas of Depoe Bay, Yachats, Otter Point, and parts of Port Orford, in addition to Shore Acres at Coos Bay, could put on a spectacular show.
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