King_Tide_at_Waldport_Roy_Lowe.jpg

Photo of the King Tides in Waldport, taken by Roy Lowe.

The first significant storm of 2020 will be making its way into Oregon this weekend and coupled with a set of King Tides that will begin late Friday morning, it’s a combination that offers great caution for residents and visitors alike.

“We’ve had a fairly light weather season so far when it comes to heavy winds and rains,” said Jon Rahl, public information officer for the City of Seaside. “This event is one that our public safety team is watching closely, and we are encouraging those living or visiting the coastal areas this weekend to take those standard precautions that come with big storms.”

Strong winds are forecast to begin early Friday afternoon, with 50-60 mph gusts expected along the coast. These winds coincide with the highest tides of the weekend (occurring between noon to 2 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday) and will likely lead to flooding in low-lying areas and estuaries along the coast.

King Tides

This is the first round of King Tides this year; the second is expected next month, Feb. 8-10. These tides arrive when the sun, moon, and earth are in alignment, causing a stronger than usual gravitational pull.

The King Tides, which might be considered extreme by most, will become the ‘new normal’ as sea level continues to rise, and storm surges increase, due to global warming, according to researchers. This hypothesis sparked the Oregon King Tides Photo Project, a citizen science activity of taking photos that document the highest reach of the year’s highest tides.

Anyone with a camera can participate. At high tide on any of the three project days (the timing of which varies, depending on location), project leaders encourage photographers to find a safe spot to observe the tide in relation to the land, snap photos and post them online. More information on the project, a link to tide tables, instructions for posting photos and a map of photo locations, can be found on the website oregonkingtides.net/.

Researchers hope that gaining a glimpse of tidal inundation likely to become common decades into the future will benefit planners, resource agencies, conservationists and coastal citizens in preparing for these changes.

Safety Precautions

With the mix of stormy weather and high tides, use the following as a checklist to make sure you are storm ready:

- Watch for erosion along beaches and stay on the lookout for moving logs in all waterways, including the ocean shores and estuaries where they can move rapidly and without warning, especially with the 20-30-foot waves expected this weekend.

- Storm watching can be incredibly fun. The King Tide series is a phenomenon in and of itself, but please remember to be mindful of your surroundings at all times. Headlands are also extremely vulnerable areas where extreme caution should be exercised at all times.

- Take the time now to check batteries in radios and flashlights in case of a power outage.

- Rely on flashlights, not candles, during power outages.

- Use caution with darkened traffic signals. Treat all non-functioning signals as a four-way stop.

- Weakened trees and tree limbs could fall into roadways. Be vigilant if you have to travel.

- Report all downed lines to Pacific Power and local emergency outlet.

- Stay away from rivers and streams as they can fill rapidly and without much warning.

- Travel slowly through areas prone to water, such as Cascade Head (Highway 101) and East Devils Lake Road.

- Consider turning on geolocation features on your devices. If you try to communicate with others, including emergency responders, this can often be used to help locate you if needed.

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