'Life-threatening conditions in the surf zone': Sneaker wave risk on Oregon Coast
COOS BAY, Ore. - Forecasters warned of an increased risk of potentially deadly sneaker waves through Friday morning.
The greatest risk is Wednesday night through Thursday, the National Weather Service in Medford said in a Beach Hazards Statement.
"A Beach Hazards Statement is issued when threats such as rip currents, longshore currents, sneaker waves and other hazards create life-threatening conditions in the surf zone," foarecasters explalined. "Caution should be used when in or near the water."
Sneaker waves will be a concern along the Coos, Curry and Douglas county coastlines, as well as the northern California coast.
"Breaker heights of 14 to 16 feet are expected. Long period swell will create waves with larger run up than usual. All areas along the coast will be affected, but the threat will be highest on west and northwest facing beaches," forecasters said. "Stay off jetties, logs, and rocks. Never turn your back to the ocean."
Steep beaches will have a higher risk of sneaker wave activity with greater wave run-up onto beaches than expected. Large waves will also wash over jetties and rock outcroppings that may normally stay dry.
If you see someone swept out to sea, call 911 and maintain visual contact with the victim, experts say. Do not enter the water.
If you yourself are caught by a wave, don't try to fight the current. Conserve energy and focus on keeping your head above water, a Coast Guard rescuer advises.
Still, time will be of the essence.
"If you are swept into the ocean," the National Weather Service said, "you only have 10 minutes in 50 degree water before your legs, arms, and hands are unable to make any meaningful movements."
A sneaker wave killed a couple who had just immigrated to Oregon from China in September.