Top Tips for Storm Watching Along the Pacific Northwest Coast

NW storm

Winter is prime time for storm watching along the Northwest Coast. There are few things as magnificent as the raw power of Mother Nature. Wave crashes resulting from winter storms can reach 30 feet high! 

Get your “ooohs” and “aaahs” ready as you witness the churning Pacific Ocean during one of these winter storms. But it’s also a sobering experience, so storm watching needs to be done safely. 

In Oregon, many coastal towns offer some great vantage points for the experience.  Cape Meares, perched 200 feet above the ocean puts you right in the middle of the action.  And Cannon Beach and Fort Stevens are also popular spots, as well!

Oregon State Parks gives these safety tips for safe viewing.

First, pick a spot that provides a great vantage point with the least exposure to danger. Locations well above the water and away from cliff edges are key. Jetties are definitely NOT a safe place to watch a storm.

Second, pay attention to fences, caution tape, cones or other barricades. They are there for a reason, so don’t venture past them. Going past barriers puts people in danger of slipping and falling down cliffs, even in the best of weather.

Lastly, watch your step while exploring. The best time to explore the beach is just after a storm, when the waves wash up shells and treasures. But be sure it’s AFTER the storm and be aware of shifting sand and driftwood piles that are unsteady.

Storm watching is also a popular pastime along the rocky shorelines of San Juan Islands, in Washington state. Good viewpoints include San Juan Island National Park’s two-mile stretch of beach, Lime Kiln Point State Park with a historic lighthouse and rocky shoreline, and on Orcas, perched on the cliffs high above Point Doughty State Park or Obstruction Pass State Park.

Vancouver Island, British Columbia, is another favorite for storm chasers. Choose Ucluelet, a laid-back community where Pacific Rim National Park Reserve’s Kwisitis Interpretive Centre offers a large observation deck.

Pick out the perfect vacation rental with Northwest Stays, then mark this off your bucket list when you see the full fury of a Northwest storm.


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