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Sneaker Waves Possible On Oregon Coast This Weekend


This Columbus Day weekend, those heading to the Oregon Coast should be extra cautious. There is a potential for deadly sneaker waves in the next few days.

Sneaker waves are sudden, unexpected waves that reach farther up the beach than normal. Mark Spilde is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. He says conditions exist for sporadic waves up to 18 feet high:

Spilde: "There's a very large storm system that's in the Gulf of Alaska and that's generating a large ocean swell. So what that will do is that will increase the surf on the beaches, and since these waves have very long periods, then that causes the waves to run up fairly significantly along the beaches."

Because the weather will not be stormy, and the time between big waves can be up to 20 minutes, beach-goers should be extra wary. Spilde cautions people to keep their eyes to the ocean and stay off jetties and rocks, especially at low tide.

Sneaker wave conditions will affect the entire Oregon Coast. Currently, the danger is highest for Saturday. Since 1999, the National Weather Service has recorded 16 deaths due to sneaker waves on the Oregon Coast.

Karen Richards joined KLCC as a volunteer reporter in 2012, and became a freelance reporter at the station in 2015. In addition to news reporting, she’s contributed to several feature series for the station, earning multiple awards for her reporting.
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