Sunday, November 8, 2009

storm chasing

This weekend a pretty decent storm generated near Alaska hit the coast of Oregon. I couldn't resist the urge to get out there and get a glimpse of the 20+ foot waves crashing into the coast.
Me after successfully capturing a water sample

Before checking out the waves, I decided to take advantage of already being out there and did some volunteer work of collecting water quality samples for the Surfriders Foundation. One of the places that I sampled from is shown in the photo below. Apparently, the old piping in the area is in pretty bad shape and a lot of raw sewage is running straight into the ocean (yuck!).
overflow drainage at Nye Beach (taken by Dave Newborn)

Because I need to get a sample that doesn't have a lot of sand in it, I need to walk out into the water a little further than the waterline. As you can see in the photo below, I found this to not be an easy task during a storm.
me trying to out run a wall of water and sea foam

After dropping off the water samples, we headed for Depoe Bay where there is a pretty big sea wall next to the highway with some basalt rocks that would make for dramatic waves. I was really surprised just how big they truly were! Huge, choppy swells rolled in, smashed into a cave that goes under the sea wall (on which you are standing) and blew up huge spouts of water with incredible force! This aquatic volcano then rained down on all the spectators (and passing cars) and they gazed in awe at the magnificent power of the waves. This scene repeated itself every few minutes. At one point, we looked over the side right above where the spouts were coming from and as the wave rushed in the cave, you could see a puff of sea spray shoot directly up at you and about 2 seconds later a wall of water came rocketing out in a vertical direction. As soon as you saw this, you had to immediately turn around or be sprayed in the face with salt water.

looks like a great place to buy a house, right?

Another place we took some shots was Boiler Bay where only a few months earlier, our research crew did a bathymetry survey. The waves were probably even more violent here. This area is pretty rocky and even on the calm day that we surveyed the bay, pretty big waves could pop up out of nowhere as they crossed over the jagged topography.
Another front coming toward shore near Boiler Bay

churning waves at Boiler Bay

In case you're wondering, these are pretty standard wave heights for the Pacific Northwest for this time of year --which is a good thing for a girl who loves taking pictures of big waves!

Dave checking the scene at Fogarty Creek