Beach Safety Tips During King Tides and High Surf

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Safety tips for safe wave watching

The next Oregon King Tide is Feb. 8-10, 2024.

Dramatic winter waves can be quite the spectacle, but their power can also be sobering.

Case in point: One cubic yard of ocean water can weigh nearly a ton. And waves can travel 15, 20 to 25 miles an hour. Those big mighty waves that you see at the coast in the winter could be magnified by king tides. King tides occur when the sun, moon and earth align at their closest points, according to the Oregon King Tides Project, thereby increasing their gravitational influence on the tides.

Tips for safe storm chasing on the Oregon coast:

  • Mind those fences and watch your step while experiencing the king tides firsthand.
  • Jetties are not a safe place to watch a storm.
  • Just because a parking lot might be safe, the nearby trails may not be.
  • Find a spot above the action away from the beach and off the cliff’s edge.
  • Check and be familiar with the 2024 tide tables for the area you’re visiting. Be aware that beaches often become entirely covered with water during high tides or storm surges.
  • Avoid climbing or playing on or around logs on the beach. They can roll when water hits them and cause injury or death.
  • Never turn your back to the ocean. Always be on the lookout for sneaker waves which are common during storms.
  • Note the beach access name or beach number at signs placed at most access points. In an emergency, share them with the operator if you need to call for help.
  • Many viewpoints offer elevated views of the beach and waves during winter storms and are an option for watching waves when beach conditions are unsafe.
  • Learn more about King Tides at the Oregon King Tides Project: https://www.oregonkingtides.net/

About Author

Communications at Oregon Parks and Recreation Department

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