Potentially deadly sneaker waves in forecast Tuesday for the Oregon Coast

by News Staff @ KMTR 16 Eugene Oregon

FLORENCE, Ore. – Are you or someone you know heading for the Oregon Coast this week?

Please use caution:

Forecasters say sneaker waves could “create life-threatening conditions in the surf zone” on the South Coast.

And the entire coast faces another round of high winter tides known as “king tides” this weekend. A little girl died and her brother is presumed dead the Oregon Coast when they and their father were swept out to sea during the last round of king tides in January.

Beach Hazards Statement

Forecasters have issued a Beach Hazards Statement for the Douglas, Coos and Curry county coast, in effect from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Tuesday.

The hazard area extends from south of Florence to the California border.

“Sneaker waves with high run-ups can knock unsuspecting people over and drag them out to sea. Shock and hypothermia can occur quickly in the cold Pacific waters,” the National Weather Service said Monday. “Logs and other debris can be lifted and floated by these waves, crushing or entrapping unsuspecting victims underneath. Never turn your back to the ocean.”

Sneaker waves are more common during the winter months.

“A Beach Hazards Statement is issued when threats such as rip currents, longshore currents, sneaker waves and other hazards create life-threatening conditions in the surf zone,” forecasters said. “Caution should be used when in or near the water. Stay off of beaches, rocks, jetties, piers, and other waterside infrastructure.”

“A large crowd gathered at the south jetty in Bandon to watch the big waves at high tide during the high surf warning, Saturday January 11, 2020,” Jill Stockford wrote via Chime In. “A young boy decided to jump down onto the beach, ignoring his mother’s yells for him to get off the beach immediately. When her tone changed, the boy finally got off the beach, literally within seconds of a fast moving sneaker wave narrowly missing him and dragging him out to sea. You can hear him laughing in the background unaware of how serious that sneaker wave was.”


King Tides

The Oregon King Tides Photo Project seeks photographs documenting the high tides February 8 to February 10.

“These tides are being documented to help visualize and understand the impacts of sea level rise (like flooding and erosion) in the coming decades,” according to the project website. “These are especially important to document in the winter when storm surge and high winds and waves are more frequent, creating even higher water levels.”

You can participate by using the hashtag #orkingtides with your photos on social media.

You can also Chime In with your photos and videos so we can share them on this website and on your live local TV news.

FIND | Tide Tables for Oregon

So what are “king tides“?

“In Oregon, we are using the term ‘king tides’ to refer to the highest winter tides,” according to the project website. “These highest tides occur each winter when the earth is closest to the sun in its yearly orbit, and when the sun and moon are aligned so that their gravitational forces reinforce each other to have a particularly strong effect on the Earth’s tides.”

A word of caution: High surf combined with king tides in January created deadly conditions on the Oregon Coast. A Portland man and his two young children were swept out to sea by a wave. The little girl died; the boy is missing and presumed dead. The father suffered hypothermia but survived.