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Stormwatching on the Coast

Storm Watching in Westport, WA (photo by Ron Arel) Storm Watching in Westport, WA (photo by Ron Arel)

There is a joke here on the Coast that if you don't like the weather, wait 15 minutes. The Washington Coast is truly a magical place with a variety of weather conditions to enjoy all year long. During the winter months, fierce storms roll in from the Pacific and pound the coast. In most places mother nature is an inconvenience, but here it is something to be embraced.

During the summertime the South Beach is full of tourists, fishermen, surfers, kayakers, hikers, kiteboarders, and nature lovers of all sorts. In winter the area takes on an entirely new personality. Wintertime is slow time in Westport and all along the South Beach. The crowds are gone, the deer have their winter coats, and from November to February a different kind of visitor blows into town to experience the blustery conditions. They are the storm watchers.

Crouched on the edge of the Olympic Peninsula, the South Beach is surrounded by impressive mountains to the north and the expansive Willipa Bay to the south. With no landmasses between us and Japan, storm fronts rolling in from the west have 3,000 miles of open ocean to build into spectacular events, sometimes becoming Pacific Cyclones with hurricane force winds before lashing the coast. The South Beach is particularly well positioned since it faces westward and is often hit in the winter by storms on their usual track from the southwest.

As long as you use common sense and follow a few basic safety precautions, storm watching can be a exciting and rewarding experience. These precautions include wearing appropriate clothes for the conditions, carrying a mobile phone for emergencies, staying on accessible high ground (or in your room) when the surf is high, never turning your back to the ocean, avoiding driftwood piles and logs, always keeping an eye out for sneaker (rouge) waves, and checking the forecast and tidal conditions ahead of time.

Our Youtube Video of the 2008 Christmas Storm - Merry Christmas!