Every year, thousands of curious storm watchers and photographers alike flock to the coast during the months of November-February in hopes of watching massive 20-35ft waves crash into the Oregon coastline during a winter storm. It’s a thing here, we call it storm watching season! The dramatic waves resulting from Pacifc storms put on quite a show and can sometimes reach up to 300 feet in the air.
Even though a trip to Oregon’s Adventure Coast: Coos Bay, North Bend, Charleston might look and feel a little different this year with the pandemic, the safety guidelines are the same. It’s exciting to get close to the action, but it can become extremely dangerous very quickly if you get too close or if you are not careful.
#1 Never turn your back to the ocean and stay off of jetties, they can be extremely dangerous. “Stay away from the surf zone and off of jetties,” forecasters warn. “Area beaches may become hazardous due to dangerous surf conditions.” Also, stay off the logs you may find on the beach. These can roll in high surf, causing injury or even death.
#2 Always watch from safe viewing areas. There is a designated viewing area for storm watching at Shore Acres State Park ($5 to park) and while no viewing location is completely safe, this is considered one of the safest. Another great local storm watching spot is at the bluff overlooking Bastendorff Beach and at Sunset Bay State Park along Cape Arago Highway.
#3 Since there is still a pandemic to contend with, please be sure to follow Oregon’s Safe+Strong guidelines and wear a face covering and stay at least 6 feet away from others.
If you are planning to stay overnight, be sure to pack the following to stay safe & dry!
❐ Rain gear to waterproof yourself and your loved ones. Light, waterproof jackets and sweaters help to keep the cool, damp wind out.
❐ Plan to dress in layers as the temperature will fluctuate.
❐ Hiking boots (waterproof ones are the best) in case you plan to hike and explore the outdoors.
❐ Waterproof digital camera since you will most definitely want to snap some pictures or videos of the waves.
❐ Binoculars can really enhance viewing of the spectacular waves.
❐ Carry plenty of water and snacks.
❐ Bring a printed map (in case cell service is limited in some outdoor areas).
❐ If you have an Oregon State Park Annual Pass be sure to bring it since some state parks charge a fee for access. Shore Acres State Park charges a $5/vehicle fee.
If you coming during one of the King Tides (November 15-17, 2020, December 13-15, 2020, and January 11-13. 2021) the Oregon King Tides Photo Project and Oregon Shores CoastWatch invite you to help document the king tides as part of a project on rising ocean levels. You can find tips and suggestions online at the Oregon King Tides website.
We will post High Surf Warnings on our Facebook Page, too, so Follow Us! For more travel inspiration, see our Adventures page and our Trip Ideas page to see all there is to do on Oregon’s Adventure Coast! Or request a visitor’s packet today. Please be sure to follow Oregon’s Safe+Strong guidelines and remember that face coverings are required in public spaces. Do not hesitate to contact us with any questions.