In the early morning of Jan. 21, an unusually high tidal surge barreled its way into the very center of Rockaway Beach.
By Brian Cameron
With an official measurement of 6.59 feet, Saturday morning’s tide peaked at approximately 6:46 a.m. and brought with it some wave surges that are seldom seen even while living right on the ocean’s edge.
“These kinds of tides are not horribly uncommon but its been a little while since we last had one,” said Mary Reynolds with the Rockaway Beach Chamber of Commerce.
With a moderate amount of localized damage the event was a reminder to many who live in Rockaway Beach or along the entire coast that things like this can happen and its important to always keep a diligent eye on the ocean.
The wave came in and followed up the creek bed that sits right by the large public parking lot near the Rockaway Beach visitor’s center, narrowly missing the lot itself but instead flowing slightly north into the parking areas with the large condominiums that sit nearby.
The waves brought with them enough kinetic force to cause a moderate amount of damage to the lower levels of the structures but the businesses and residents have learned to live with unexpectedly high tides in and around Rockaway Beach and no one was injured. Many were still asleep or having their morning coffee and for a while the damage went unseen, but as the sun came up the damage revealed itself.
“I’ve learned from living here, so close to the beach, that you always have to watch out for God,” said Nancy Arrington, manager of Rock Creek Inn and Condos, which was one of the most impacted by the inundation.
“Our north stairway was completely ripped loose,” she said, “And both my car and my grandson’s were physically moved and slightly damaged by debris.”
According to representatives from the US Coast Guard station in Garibaldi the ocean was of particular turbulence on Saturday and they decided to enact a full port-closure, which went into effect at 9:45 a.m. thereby completely shutting down all commercial and recreational marine traffic in and out of the Port of Garibaldi.
Saturday morning’s wave activity was a stark reminder that the Pacific Ocean is something to be regarded with respect, awe and appreciation.
“Never turn your back on the ocean,” Arrington said, “Especially in the winter.”