Winter is a beautiful time to visit Manzanita. When visiting Manzanita. It’s important to remember that the ocean and the weather can often be unpredictable, especially during winter storms and extreme high tides. Here are some tips to make your winter vacation safe.
They’re called sneaker waves because they appear without warning, often surging high up on the beach with deadly force, and are impossible to predict.
How to play it safe: Never turn your back on the ocean.
The ocean is strong enough to pick up even the biggest log and plop it down on top of you. Some logs may look small, but even the tiny ones can be waterlogged and weigh tons.
How to play it safe: If you see a log in the surf or on wet sand, stay off it.
The deeper the water, the greater the risk of falling victim to an undertow (the seaward pull of receding waves breaking onshore). These currents can swiftly sweep unwary beachcombers and waders off their feet and out to sea.
How to play it safe: Stay in shallow water.
Incoming tides isolate rocks from headlands and the shore. Avoid the temptation of strolling out to an interesting rock without knowing when the tide rolls back in. Free tide tables are readily available at state park offices, information centers and many shops and motels.
How to play it safe: Stay off rocks and small, enclosed beaches.
Tide tables are available at the Manzanita Visitors Center, or check this link before heading out.
Tides and waves can sweep over rocks, jetties and headlands, knocking you off and carrying you out to sea.
How to play it safe: Assume nothing is “high enough” and avoid exposed rocks, jetties and headlands during strong wave action periods (like during and after storms).
Assume that all cliff edges are unstable. Wet trails or soft sand and earth can make for unstable footing. Rocks can be slippery even when it isn’t raining.
How to play it safe: Make sure you wear proper footwear, and stick to the trails. Stay behind guard fences and railings, and don’t get too close to the edge.
Standing at the base of an oceanside cliff can be dangerous, especially if it has an overhang. In some places, winter storms and high waves have eroded the shoreline, increasing the chance of collapsing landforms and slides.
How to play it safe: Beware of falling rocks, and don’t climb on bluffs and eroding hillsides. Don’t walk along the base of cliffs unless absolutely necessary.
Waves remove or shift even the largest boulders from the jetties, but underwater currents – which penetrate the structure – remove smaller rocks and sand from the inside of the jetty. And that can create dangers – some visible, others hidden:
How to play it safe: Don’t walk on coastal jetties.
(Info courtesy of Oregon Coast Visitors Association. Photo credit: Denielle Cowley