Watching a Winter Storm on the Oregon Coast

Watching a winter storm on the Oregon Coast can be more fun than going to the coast in the summer.

Crashing Waves

A visit in winter on the Oregon Coast has some advantages:

  • Fewer people
  • Lower prices for lodging
  • You are likely to see a spectacular winter storm
  • Less traffic on the roads
  • Two for one specials

The most fun I have ever had on the Oregon Coast was during a storm with the waves crashing high into the air over the rocks and the sea foam blowing through the air. It was hypnotic. If you don't want to be out in the storm, get yourself a nice beach front place to stay--a place with a fireplace and big windows. Anywhere along the coast will do but I always like to see the waves break over rocks. See the nice video below.

Terrible Tilly Lighthouse

After a storm is the best time to find treasure on the beach. Beachcombing for agates, shells, petrified wood, and glass floats is lots of fun. Your chance of finding a glass float now is better than ever since coastal communities began "seeding" the beaches with them.

Here is a short video of a 2006 winter storm on the Oregon Coast.

Now if you do go down on the beach during a storm, be careful. Never turn your back on the water. Actually, you should never turn your back on the water even when there isn't a storm because of what they call sneaker waves. You know all that driftwood that is piled up higher on the beach? Those logs were brought in by storms. You can't see them in the water. Just assume that they are out there. You don't want one of those logs on top of you.

Here is an article by Patricia Davidson, professional photographer, about taking photos of coastal storms including some important safety tips.

Find Glass Floats After a Storm

Japanese Fishing Floats

Japanese glass floats from Japanese fishing nets have always been a "big find" on Oregon beaches. It is rare to find one anymore because the Japanese fishermen are using plastic floats.

In 2000 the community of Lincoln City decided to celebrate the new millinium by commissioning the making of 2000 beautifully colored glass floats to be placed somewhere on the beach for people to find and keep. Now it has become a tradition and the number of floats equals the year--in 2008 there will be 2008 floats hidden.

The floats are numbered and signed by the artist. Floats are hidden above the high tide line and none are hidden during storms. No floats are placed on cliff areas. Floats are hidden until Memorial Day. If you find one, call the Visitor Center at 1-800-452-2151 or 541-996-1274 in Lincoln City to register for more prizes. To read more about finding glass floats in Lincoln City, read Glass Fishing Float.

The merchants of Old Town Florence also place floats for you to find on nearby beaches.

It's Not Always Stormy on the Oregon Coast in Winter!

Cape Kiwanda

Between storms anything can happen.

The temperature on the Oregon Coast in the winter is often higher than it is inland. When it is 42 and sunny in the Willamette Valley it can be 52 and sunny on the coast. The temperature of the ocean is around 50 degrees and that keeps it warmer on the coastal area. It can happen that the temperature can be in the 60's in December with no wind. It is a fact that on Christmas Day in 2001 the temperature rose to around 68 degrees at Gleneden Beach.

January and February can have some warmer sunny days on the coast. In fact, most years there is a week to 10 days in February that could be called downright balmy. The east wind may be causing havoc and chilly weather inland but it is blocked from the coast by the Coastal Range.

December through February is one of the best times for whale watching. The grey whales are migrating to their breeding grounds off Baja, California.

Oregon Coast Storms