Sea level is predicted to rise over the next century. Several areas of the Oregon coast are already vulnerable to high water levels because of their low elevations and proximity to the shoreline. Rising sea levels means increased erosion and more frequent and expanded flooding in the future. An infrequent event today could become normal in the future. Coastal erosion along beaches and headlands causes damage to infrastructure and homes. Here on the coast we have had 11.74 inches of rain so far this month, according to Hatfield Marine Science Center.
The term ‘king tide’ is a non-scientific term that refers to the highest winter tides that occur each year. These extreme high tides occur when the moon’s orbit comes closest to the earth, the earth’s orbit is closest to the sun, and the sun, moon and earth are in direct alignment, thereby increasing their gravitational influence on the tides. The effect that extreme tide events have on our state’s beaches, coastal waterways, private property, and public infrastructure gets worse each year.
The area in Newport known as "Jump off Joe" is currently at risk of a landslide. The area in the early '80's was approved for a condominium development. Prior to the start of development the owners needed to have a geologist sign off on the project, which they did. Construction started and the foundation was built along with three units. Very quickly however the foundation started to crack. This area is primarily sandstone, which erodes over time. The city put a stop order on construction. As a result the building was torn down and materials were sold off. This was especially hard on local contractors. The cement foundation was the only piece that remained as it was deemed too much of a hazard to try to remove.
The city paved a potion of the area as a parking lot as the area is a popular space for locals to go and walk their dogs, sit in their cars and watch the ocean and it is also a popular spot for teens to skateboard and hang out. As a result of the recent erosion however the city has now blocked off the area. The erosion has been significant over the last few days. Representatives from the County, City and State Parks will be meeting this week to discuss additional actions and next steps. Another area of concern with erosion is further north on hwy 101, near milepost 133 at Johnson Creek. An active landslide there has been a longtime problem. ODOT has been working to do pave overs in this area, however the pavement has continued to crack.
Another area of concern is at the Devils Punchbowl in Otter Rock. The trail has become eroded and it is not safe to get down to the punchbowl area of the beach right now. Visitors and locals to the coast during the winter months with the heavy rains and high tides are advised to be safe when visiting the coast and make sure to stand behind the railings and not go past these fences that are set up for security as waves can come in unexpectedly and also safety concerns regarding soft soil and landslides. Avoid walking along the base of cliffs or eroding bluffs. Chunks of cliff or rocks can fall at any time; areas with overhangs and caves are especially dangerous. Do not dig in cliffs or bluffs.