School is in full swing, the clocks have been turned back, and the leaves are making their final descent. We’ve reached that magical time of year when the ocean truly comes alive: storm season. If you’ve never witnessed the raw power and beauty of a winter storm on the Oregon Coast, you need to add it to this year’s winter to-do list. Storm watching is especially exciting near Florence, which is excellent news for those of us who live close by! We’ve got the best spots to storm watch and a few essential tips for you to have the best storm-watching experience this year.
Best places to storm watch near Florence, Oregon, ranked north to south
Along with a quaint little sea town with fun shops runs a wall. Just beyond this wall are rocks that provide a superb spot for waves to crash upon. But the rocks are just the beginning.
Depoe Bay (62 miles, 90 minutes north of Florence) features a dramatic spouting horn—a crevice that stretches back towards the sea wall and ends right below it. The horn provides quite a show when conditions are right. This horn is one of only a few spouting horns on the Oregon Coast. The sea wall is also a prime place to spot whales, so keep your eyes open and your binoculars ready.
Devil’s Punch Bowl
When looking for a great place to watch storms, three things come into play: big rocks, big waves, and a safe place to watch the show. Devil’s Punch Bowl (58 mi., 80 minutes north of Florence) fits the bill. The phenomenon, which is a collapsed sea cave, provides a dramatic backdrop for the waves as they crash to the shore. There is a viewpoint above the bowl that will ensure safety and a front-row seat.
The best time to watch a storm is about an hour before high tide when the water is closest to shore. In Yachats (25 miles, 37 minutes north of Florence), the shoreline is perfect for waves as it is rocky and rugged. The 804 Trail in Yachats passes by these beautiful shores and provides an elevated point to watch the waves crash. Remember to stay away from the rocks during these events; there’s a memorial at one of the beaches remembering two young men who were swept away by a sneaker wave and drowned.
Cape Perpetua (Thor’s Well)
Just two miles south from Yachats is Cape Perpetua (23 miles, 32 minutes north of Florence). One of the highlights of this fantastic area is Thor’s Well. Unlike the Depoe Bay spout, which shoots water out, the well sucks the ocean water in and then pushes it back out. The well, coupled with the jagged coastline, makes this a beautiful spot for Oregon Coast storm watching.
Our five top picks for storm watching are all within a scenic and thrilling hour-and-a-half drive of your home base at Old Town Inn. Now that you know the best places to storm watch, it’s time to take a look at our top tips for making your next adventure safe and smart.
Shore Acres (60 miles, 80 minutes south of Florence) not only has a beautiful botanical garden, but it also boasts some of the best storm watching in the state. Waves can rise more than 100 feet in the air upon contact with the shore. The safest place to watch the waves is at the storm-watching hut at Shore Acres.
Top Tips for Storm Watching
Bring Your Gear
Pack your camera. A DSLR is the optimal choice for the fast action of the waves. If your camera is not weather-sealed, make sure you bring a rain cover. Another helpful piece of gear is a pair of binoculars. They’ll help you get even closer to the wave action.
Like we say here in Florence, “there is no bad weather, just bad clothing choices!” That holds especially true when going storm watching. You’ll be out in the same dramatic elements that are bashing and crashing waves against the shore. Make sure you dress in smart layers. A warm base layer means you can stay out in the cold longer. A waterproof outer layer will keep you dry. Warm and waterproof boots, a hat, and gloves will also make things far more comfortable.
Remember that line in Kindergarten Cop? “Kindergarten is like the ocean. You don’t want to turn your back on it.” This statement is especially vital when storm watching. Here are a few more very important “don’ts”: Don’t stand near the water’s edge, don’t go into the water, stay off of jetties, and don’t stand near large debris like driftwood logs. Always find a place that is far away from the action but close enough to watch. Remember, there can still be sneaker waves, with or without storms. If you are by a sea wall, don’t stand too close as debris can be picked up by waves and tossed over the wall. Above all, safety first. Use your best judgment when storm watching.
Know When a Storm Is Coming
Online resources such as the Northwest Weather Network, National Weather Service, or Accuweather are great to help predict when a storm is rolling in. The high season for storm watching is November to March. Of course, the weather is always unpredictable. What looks like a big storm could quickly peter out, and what seems like a small storm can pick up strength and become large in the blink of an eye. Prepare for both scenarios. Use our above tips when you go out in a storm, and spend some time visiting our picturesque coastal towns when the weather turns nice.
When the forecast shows storms ahead, make a beeline to your computer or give us a call to reserve your room here at Old Town Inn. We are your home base for all the coastal adventures you crave!