Skip to content

Seaside Stories

Tides and Tide Tables: What You Need to Know

December 16, 2017 | by Shellie Bailey-Shah

Trying to take flight during a wind storm on the beach in Seaside, Oregon.

If your winter beach vacations to date have required sunscreen, then you clearly have not experienced a magical Seaside day in January or February, when the weather can change from bright sunshine to misty drizzle in mere hours.

These unpredictable cooler days have perks: There’s something quite satisfying about playing board games and sipping hot chocolate next to a fire in a coastal cottage, waiting for the rain to let up before heading out to explore the shore. And locals will tell you that the best time for beachcombing is low tide after a good storm.

Storm-watchers and tide-observers come to Seaside, standing on the Prom to see the beach transform in the matter of minutes: Storms tend to steal the show, demonstrating the dynamic force of nature present on the Coast. Another ocean phenomenon, “king tides” — defined as unusually high tides — highlight the influence tides have on coastal environments and how climate change can dramatically affect them. King tides occur when the moon is nearest the earth in early winter. Check out the photo contest to see images from this past winter’s event.

Whether you come to Seaside for storms, to watch the tides or to paddle tidally influenced rivers, it’s crucial that you understand when low and high tide occurs since they affect almost everything you’ll do here (including simply lazing on the shore).

Learning to read tide tables can help in planning your day. You can find up-to-date tables specifically for Seaside here. If you’re new to tide tables, here are six pro tips for reading them properly:

How to Read Tide Tables

1. Find the date.

After selecting the tide table for the appropriate month, scan the left side of the table for the date in question.

2. Scan for time of day.

As you move across the chart left to right, you’ll see times of day and height measurements in feet.

3. Understand “chart datum.”

The measurements represent how many feet above or below chart datum the tide will be at that given time. Chart datum is the plane of reference against which tidal heights are measured; it’s an average of low tide heights.

4. Check high tide.

High tides (H) are the larger, positive numbers. For example, H 8.0 would indicate that the peak swell for that time period will be 8 feet above chart datum (or the average low tide height).

5. Check low tide.

Low tides (L) are the smaller numbers and can be either positive or negative. For example, L -1.0 indicates a low tide at one foot below chart datum. For the best beachcombing, you want to look for low tide — strong minus tides can be especially good beach days

6. Observe tidal rhythms.

On the Oregon Coast, you’ll typically see two high tides and two low tides per day, roughly six hours apart.

7. Ask to be sure.

If you aren’t sure about tides or have questions, ask a local or make an inquiry with the Seaside Visitors Bureau staff, who can give you in-person guidance as well as more travel tips.

 


 

and so much 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
Roaming the Sand for Treasures

The beach is often filled with unique finds, especially after a storm.

Learn More
Seaside Golf Club

A look at the history of the Seaside Golf Club.

Learn More
Making Seaside Beautiful: Gardens

Seeking help on starting a garden plot sent me in search of Pam Fleming, whose reputation as a resource on Seaside’s Gardens was a bit understated as I was to discover. I met her at the Grand Opening of Back Alley Gardens (find by walking through Natural Nook Florists 734 Broadway).

Learn More
Gone Fishin’

You know you’re in Seaside when . . . this sentence can be completed in numerous ways. Today I’ll finish it with: . . . you see a guy walking down the road in tall rubber boots, fishing pole in one hand, long silvery fish dangling from the other.

Learn More
Clam Chowder
Must-Eat Clam Chowders in Seaside

A look at five of the more than 20 clam chowders found in Seaside, Oregon

Learn More
Epic Mountain Biking Trails at Klootchy Creek

Updated 2022 Seaside’s natural landscapes are settings for all kinds of two-wheeled adventures, including challenging rides on l...

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
So Close, But a World Away

A couple explores Seaside as modern-day Lewis and Clark Adventurers

Learn More
Celebrate the Holidays in Seaside

Celebrate the holiday season — Seaside-style! That means escaping the frenetic holiday bustle and slowing down to enjoy the sigh...

Learn More
A Year in Seaside – Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall Tips

While Seaside is an enduring summertime destination, our beach town increasingly draws visitors to its sandy shores throughout the...

Learn More
How to Explore the Historic Gilbert District

While many visit Seaside to stroll the Prom, ride the carousel and load up on saltwater taffy, walk east on Broadway over the Neca...

Learn More
Bell Buoy Stays in the Family

SEASIDE SPOTLIGHT: Our first profile in a series focused on the behind-the-scenes movers who make Seaside the unique destination i...

Learn More
Fall in Seaside

Experiencing the changing seasons in Seaside

Learn More
Saddle Mountain State Park Excursion

A day trip to Saddle Mountain adds diversity to Seaside as a destination vacation.

Learn More
Smoothies, Boba, Floats and Other Specialty Drinks

It’s hot out and you’ve worked up a thirst. Sometimes that plain old water isn’t going to satisfy. Luckily, it’s easy to f...

Learn More
The Seaside Parade of Lights is one of many holiday festivities
Holiday Festivities in Seaside

Seaside is one of the Coast’s most beloved destinations for holiday shopping and seasonal celebrations. Plan a visit around thes...

Learn More