Oregon State University's student-run lifestyle magazine

Beaver's Digest

Oregon State University's student-run lifestyle magazine

Beaver's Digest

Oregon State University's student-run lifestyle magazine

Beaver's Digest

Latest issue

King tides bring dangers and photo ops to Oregon Coast

A+view+of+the+ocean+crashing+against+two+cliffs.
Madi Stines
Views from Newport on the Oregon Coast April 22, 2022.

Jackie Jensen, a third-year kinesiology major at Oregon State University has seen seals, boats, pieces of whales and more on her front lawn in Sheldon, Washington. She has experienced high tides in the ocean just below her front yard her whole life. 

King tides aren’t as apparent in Puget Sound as they can be on the Oregon Coast, but they are strong enough to still bring debris into Jensen’s yard even all the way in the sound. 

King tides can be dangerous and the king tide season will be coming to a close after next month. The next king tides will be seen Feb. 8-10. 

Peter Ruggiero, a professor of geology and geophysics at OSU, researches coastal hazards. 

He said that king tides are simply the high tides of the month, but they are usually more drastic because Earth is closest to the moon and the sun during king tides. The gravitational effect from both can cause extreme high and low tides. 

Peter Ruggiero, Professor of Geology and Geophysics, talks about king tides at his office in Burt Hall.
(Sam Misa)

“The forces are higher and so it’s what we refer to as perigean spring tides,” Ruggiero said. 

He also mentioned that although not necessarily dangerous, the extreme low tides have benefits that a normal low tide doesn’t provide.

“People can actually go out clamming at those low tides. People that survey beaches like low tides because we can actually get further out onto the beach profile and make measurements of the geomorphology,” Ruggiero said. 

Jensen mentioned that she and her family like to go gooey ducking during the low low tides. But she said that the high tides bring submerged trees and rusted greenhouses to the yard. 

Jensen said that her and her family traveled to the coast often and she has seen her fair share of high tides. 

“It was always known, like, stay off the tide pools, stay away from any access points. Safe areas are on the actual patio by the lighthouse, just as far away from the actual water as you can get while still having a higher vantage point,” Jensen said. “Those sneaker waves are kind of terrifying. You’ll just be watching and something comes out of nowhere… by the time it hits the coast it’s taller than you are.” 

Ruggiero was in agreement about the ways to view king tides safely. 

“The interesting thing about king tides in Oregon, and thinking about what that means in terms of beach safety, it turns out that waves are, if not as important, more important in terms of driving how high the water level gets, at least on our outer coast beaches,” Ruggiero said. 

Ruggiero said that people should watch from a coastal bluff, they should always keep their eyes on the water and they should never be between the water and a bluff if they are on the beach.

The name king tide was coined as a way to get the public thinking about extreme sea level rise as global warming continues.

Oregon’s King Tide Project is a community science project that encourages the public to visualize what would happen with sea level rise. It encourages people to submit photos that show erosion, waves and other effects that the high tides have on coastal areas. 

People who are wanting to view the king tides this year should abide by safety precautions but are encouraged to submit their photos to the website. 

The next King tides will be seen Feb. 8-10 and this is projected to be the last perigean tides of the season which can be viewed from Newport Or. or anywhere along the West Coast. 

Students looking for transport to the coast can find the Benton County bus routes and schedules on their website. The OSU transportation page has other options as well. 

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