Seaside Stories

All About Storm Watching in Seaside

December 15, 2020 | by Jen Anderson

Having grown up in Seaside, Keith Chandler knows and appreciates the beauty and the power of watching storms and high tides on the Oregon Coast. As general manager of the Seaside Aquarium, located on the Prom directly across from the beach, he keeps an eye on conditions regularly and encourages visitors to come and watch the waves too, as long as they’re extremely mindful of their safety. 

Because of the long, wide stretch of sandy beach, “Seaside’s the safest place to watch storms,” says Chandler, who’s run the aquarium for the past 40 years. “You just need to be careful not to get too close to the surf. You can be safe on the Prom or on the beach, but if you get too close to the waves, you can be in big trouble.” 

Seaside has a long history with storms. It is, after all, those same waves that bring up the sand dollars we love to collect. Huge swells used to come up to the Aquarium until the Prom was built as a seawall in 1921 to protect the buildings from the ocean, and several hundred feet of stand naturally formed as an added barrier over time. 

 

How to Watch Storms Safely

If you want to bundle up and storm-watch outside, first check the road and weather conditions to see when a Pacific storm will roll in. Plan around that for the best storm watching. (Pack and dress for the conditions — expect rain along with possible hail, strong wind, and thunder and lightning — which contribute to turbulent ocean conditions. Combined with high tides, these weather events are spectacular to watch from a safe place.) 

Then check the Seaside tide tables and look for when the tide will be the highest, for the most dramatic viewing. Winter swells often get up to about 7 or 8 feet, but anything 9 feet or higher is considered a spectacle worth watching from a safe distance, Chandler says. (Note that tides can vary an hour or more from the charts — they should be used as a general guide to help plan a safe trip to the beach.) 

If you get a chance, stop into the aquarium — founded in 1937, one of the oldest on the West Coast — to pick up one of their “Discovery Cards” with facts about sneaker waves. That’s the phenomenon when two or three waves come in at the same time and run all the way up the beach, catching anything or anyone in their path. Chandler has seen his share of tragic incidents over the years and urges visitors to keep their eyes on the ocean and know what’s happening with the tides at all times, even in non-stormy weather.  


 

Top Spots to Storm-Watch

Besides the Prom, other great spots he recommends for storm watching include Ecola State Park, where you’ll see lots of action as the waves splash onto the rocks, as well as the north jetty at Fort Stevens State Park. Both spots can be very wet and windy, so be sure to layer up with rain gear and boots, and obey posted signs. 

But the safest place for marveling at the force of the Pacific, Chandler says, is also the most comfortable. “The storms are fun to watch with a hot toddy in the hotel room.” Book a stay at one of Seaside’s many ocean-view lodgings, from the aptly named Hi-Tide Oceanfront Resort and Ebb-Tide Oceanfront Inn to any of the deluxe vacation cottages and rentals on the beach. 

and so much more!

The Art of the Stroll: Celebrate Seaside’s Prom Centennial

When’s the last time you strolled the Prom? It’s a tradition synonymous with Seaside, thanks to the 1.5- mile paved, accessibl...

Learn More
Where to Find Your Seaside Centennial Keepsakes

While you’re walking around in Seaside looking to beat the heat, you might start with a super-tall, non-alcoholic frozen refresh...

Learn More
Miss Oregon Parade: 1950

A brief look at the Miss Oregon Parade circa 1950.

Learn More
How to Treasure the Beach

No one owns the Oregon Coast — it belongs to everyone. Thanks to 1967’s landmark Beach Bill, Oregon has some of the most prote...

Learn More
Celebrating the Moms in Our Life

Honoring motherhood through a photo on the beach

Learn More
The Quieter Side of Seaside

Seaside without the bustle of Broadway Street? If that sounds more like your speed, I’m here to tell you that it’s possible to...

Learn More
How to Build a Beach Campfire

It’s a longstanding Seaside tradition: listening to a crackling fire in concert with the crashing of the ocean waves. Campfires ...

Learn More
A group of women prepare to learn surfing in Oswald West State Park. Photo by Justin Bailie.
New Year, New Adventures

Instead of starting the new year by committing to breaking bad habits — and then forgetting that you even made the resolution ...

Learn More
October is a Fickle Friend in Seaside

October weather is unpredictable on Oregon's North Coast

Learn More
Locals Weigh In on the Best Ways to Visit Seaside

Building a campfire on the beach is a special tradition in Seaside. Photo: Kimson Doan Maybe you’ve visited Seaside for decades,...

Learn More
A Weekend of Discoveries

Last weekend I went to the Pouring at the Coast Event with my boyfriend, and had the best time! We were given souvenir glasses to use during the event (and they had rinse stations to keep your glass clean between tastings). We tried craft beers from every brewery, and I discovered I really enjoy the dark beers

Learn More
Seaside Downtown Wine Walk
Seaside’s Spring Downtown Wine Walk

A deeper look inside an annual spring event in Seaside

Learn More
Beach Books is an independent book store in Seaside, Oregon.
Where to Shop for Souvenirs in Seaside

Hunting for bargains? Searching for Seaside souvenirs? Seeking one-of-a-kind gifts? You’ve come to the right place. To your deli...

Learn More
Hot Summer Car Shows help usher in the summer season in Seaside.
Hot Summer Car Shows

Two Seaside car shows help usher in and wind down the summer travel season

Learn More
Discover Marine Wonders at Low Tide

One of the great delights when visiting Seaside — especially for families — is coming into contact with the otherworldly wonde...

Learn More
Wave Meets Wall

Back in 1925, the waves would encroach on Seaside's Turnaround with a dramartic ferocity

Learn More
Seaside Skatepark

The Seaside Skatepark (also called the PTR “Hometown Park”) has a unique history. It was opened in June of 2007, and was built by Placed to Ride. The owner of Placed to Ride, Stefan Hauser, lives here in Seaside.

Learn More
Salt Making in Seaside

A little history about the Salt Works; on December 28, 1805 the Lewis and Clark sent five men to establish a salt camp. Five days later, they found an ideal place on the seacoast fifteen miles southwest of Fort Clatsop (the seawater had a high salt content here, and game and wood were abundant).

Learn More