First Big Wave Storm With Waves Up to 30 Feet is Expected for the Oregon and Washington Coasts
First Big Wave Storm: Predictions indicate that the coasts of Oregon and Washington will experience their first major wave storm with waves approaching 30 feet. Waves along the Oregon and Washington coastlines appear destined to send 2016 out with a bang. The combination of relatively long period swells and waves that can exceed 20 feet in height increases the likelihood of significant erosion and beach safety warnings due to sneaker waves.
First Big Wave Storm With Waves Up to 30 Feet
Offshore, the National Weather Service (NWS) offices in Seattle, Portland, and Medford forecast extremely high wave heights beginning Sunday night and continuing through Wednesday.
On Sunday, when seas reach 15 to 20 feet along the northern Oregon coast and half of the Washington coastline, numerous gale warnings and/or small craft advisories will be issued for the nearshore areas. By that evening or Monday, the winds will be strong enough to cause damage at sea, but the beaches will be less affected. In contrast, strong winds at sea generate large waves.
The Portland office of the National Weather Service forecasts “active weather” for the final week of December, with another powerful frontal system arriving on Tuesday. The strength of the winds will depend on the path of a surface low. Monday night and Tuesday will be marked by strong winds that may reach hurricane force. The expected wave height on Tuesday is between 22 and 27 feet. Wednesday’s seas will be in the high teens, while Thursday’s seas will be in the low to middle teens.
It is possible that the waves that reach the shores of Ocean Park, Manzanita, Shore Acres State Park, and Gold Beach will be slightly smaller than the NWS predicted. Waves can lose energy as they approach the shore.
Sunday’s high tide could bring 20-foot waves to the coast between Raymond, Washington, and Newport, Oregon. High intervals of 14 seconds will separate swells, causing smaller waves to form on top of the larger ones.
When there is a significant amount of time between swells, the waves have a greater chance of accumulating energy into a single, large wave that can cause significant shoreline damage from a greater distance. Therefore, we refer to them as “sneaker waves.”
Monday will have a swell period of approximately 15 seconds and total seas of approximately 19 feet. Tuesday’s forecast is unchanged, but on Wednesday, the highest tides in this region could reach slightly over 20 feet. The waves are predicted to be significantly more intense further south along the Oregon coast.
On Sunday, long-period swells reach heights of 15 feet, and on Monday, they approach 20 feet. Meteorologists with the NWS in Medford have issued a warning that something even more destructive is approaching the southern coast.
The National Weather Service issued a warning about “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 high and steep waves. There is growing evidence that Tuesday’s seas north of Cape Blanco will exceed 30 feet. Due to the high wave heights, hazardous surf is anticipated along the Oregon coast from Monday morning through Wednesday morning. On Tuesday afternoon/evening, the highest tides could peak.
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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