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Nov-19-2007 18:02printcomments

Dangerous High Tides Prompt Oregon Beach Alert

Sneaker waves become especially dangerous at times of high tides and during winter storms.

Beach safety warning sign
Inset picture of the Nelscott Classic Surfing Contest
Photos by: Tim King

(NEWPORT, Ore.) - Forecasters say they are concerned by predictions of tides 10 feet or higher this week, and the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department is urging beachcombers on holiday coastal visits to be particularly cautious.

picture of the Nelscott Classic Surfing ContestJust this past weekend, a Monmouth woman was swept out to sea and drowned while hunting for agates in the Taft area of Lincoln City.

"This is a good time to keep an eye on the ocean," said OPRD beach safety education coordinator Robert Smith. "Even the most experienced beachcombers can be caught unaware unless they stay alert."

Smith said that sneaker waves become especially dangerous at times of high tides and during winter storms. "Also, our beaches become narrower when sand is eroded away leaving little room to escape at some points," he added.

Smith says this shouldn't cause people to change plans to take Thanksgiving holiday breaks on the coast, they just need to be more careful than usual.

Surfers also may be able to take advantage of the different conditions at several Oregon breaks. The annual Nelscott Reef Tow-In Professional Surfing Contest while not set for any of the coming days, could be announced very soon. Contest founder and organizer John Forse in Lincoln City invites 40 of the world's top ranked pro surfers from all over the world each year for the event. For more information on that, visit

"Ask any storm watcher-this is a great time to enjoy the beauty of the ocean shore. People just need to respect the ocean by being aware of their surroundings and paying attention to warnings on safety signs."

Coastal rescuers will be on high alert, and people following basic rules make everyone safer. Storm watchers need to be alert to cliffside hazards, Smith warned.

"The power of the ocean can have a long reach," he said. "Wind and rain can cause unstable conditions on cliffs overlooking the ocean. Wandering off trails for a closer look can be a bad idea." Other beach safety tips and closer looks at the dangers of sneaker waves, rolling logs and rip currents are presented online at

Check Oregon tides

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.



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