King Tide 2016

King Tide 2016 has come and gone. If you missed it, the winter season offers one more opportunity. Another round of high spring tides will test the capacity of coastal shorelines everywhere in mid-January, 2017. I wrote about the November 2016 King Tide in It’s Not This Time of Year Without High Tides and Crashing Surf. There I described what King Tide is and why people are interested. A few words and photos here about the December King Tide will serve as an update as 2016 comes to a close.

Almost high tide, December 13, 2016

I thought December 13 would be a good day to document the last King Tide sequence of 2016. It was a good choice. High tide was almost upon me when I topped the foredune. There was just enough time for the hike to the old growth stump where I like to document the highest reach of tide. That stump has been a reliable King Tide landmark since 2012. I didn’t expect to find the drift line littered with pyrosomes.

Pyrosomes are so uncommon in the northern Oregon drift line I can’t recall seeing them previously. If you are interested in these little-known pelagic tunicates, you can read about my first encounter with pyrosomes and see some more photos in A Pyrosome Beach Cast.

In the swash zone, King Tide, December 13, 2016

As it turns out, I missed the highest wave of the day – just barely missed it. You can see it’s aftermath in the photo above. When it hit, I was only a few yards shy of my trusty landmark. The pyrosomes distracted me just enough to miss what I came for. The tide produced no higher run up the beach than this.

High tide, December 13, 2016

A few minutes later, I got into position, a bit too late. The band of wet sand marks the highest run up, a few feet shy of the shelf where the biggest driftwood is perched. Compare the December 2016 tide (above) with the November 2016 tide (below). The December tide was projected to be a couple inches higher than the November tide. What gives?

High tide, November 14, 2016

The disparity is easy to explain. On the exposed outer coast, the the extent of flooding influenced by the height of tide and the combined effect of swell and wind waves. The forecast on December 13 called for 2′ wind waves and a 5′ swell. On November 14, the forecast was 2′ wind waves and 9′ swell. The 4′ difference in swell height matches the difference seen in these photos.

I’ve documented some previous King Tides at this location, so if you need more Oregon high tide in your life check out: My 2015 King Tide Project – Swell Matters and Comparing King Tides.

For more Oregon King Tide photos go to the Oregon King Tides Photos Project Pool on flickr.


  1. Sometimes it’s really hard to not repeat the same words when making comments! I’ll just say I could look at that first photo (Almost High Tide) for hours.

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