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!

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
Guide to Spring Events in Seaside

If you think Seaside is simply a summertime destination, get ready to adjust your mindset! Seaside offers something for all visito...

Learn More
Alcohol Server Training at Clatsop Community College

Alcohol server training certificate at Clatsop Community College in South County Center

Learn More
The Spirits of Seaside Inside

Above photo: An old fashioned cask of beer in the historic Seaside Brewery by Jon Rahl, Seaside Visitors Bureau. Seaside has a lot...

Learn More
Crabbing at the 12th Avenue Bridge

The inside scoop on catching your dinner in Seaside.

Learn More
Biking the N. Coast Mountain Range

Opportunities endless when hopping on two wheels to navigate Seaside area

Learn More
Knights of Summer: Seaside’s Lifeguarding Tradition

Seaside has had a rich lifeguard tradition for almost 100 years.

Learn More
Hiking Saddle Mountain is one of our four favorite hikes around Seaside.
4 Favorite Hikes Around Town

The sheer variety of trails in and around Seasie Oregon means you have plenty of hiking options, from kid-friendly strolls on the Prom to more strenuous climbs with stunning views.

Learn More
How to Build a Beach Bonfire

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

Learn More
Roaming the Sand for Treasures

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

Learn More
Going for a Dip in the 1920s

Seaside ocean antics in the late 1920s

Learn More
The Cove in Seaside

Rain or shine, the Seaside Cove is a must-see-stop whether you’re a tourist or a local. It’s a mixture of sandy and rocky beach. There are tons of parking spots, and Seltzer Park is just across the street. There are public restrooms and a shower to rinse off sandy feet. There are also plenty of benches for both wave watching and people watching.

Learn More
Seaside Promenade

I walked along the Prom last weekend on a beautifully bright and sunny day and found myself surrounded by walkers, runners, people on all sorts of wheels, strollers, couples holding hands, and dogs of all sizes leading their people around. I also heard all sorts of accents and languages-and saw plenty of cameras.

Learn More
MotorTrend Magazine – Epic Drives: Classic Cobra Visits Seaside

MotorTrend Magazine makes the trek to Seaside, Oregon to show off a Classic Cobra

Learn More
The Pacific Pier

A look at the old Pacific Pier in Seaside, Oregon

Learn More
Ice Cream for Dinner

More than a dozen frozen treat shops, the thought of brain freeze is likely.

Learn More
Celebrating Spring

Celebrating spring and the lush wildlife in Seaside and the North Oregon Coast.

Learn More
Fruits of Your Labor

Picking blackberries on the Oregon Coast, local coastal berries

Learn More