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'Life-threatening conditions': Forecast calls for largest waves in years to hit Northwest

National Weather Service

COOS BAY, Ore. - Forecasts call for large waves to hit Northwest coasts on Thursday, increasing the risk to people and causing erosion and coastal flooding, the National Weather Service in Portland said.

"Looking back at the last 20 years of data from the nearest buoys, waves of this magnitude only come around every couple of years, on average," forecasters said Thursday. "Very large waves will create dangerous beach conditions on Thursday. Low-lying structures and roads could be flooded or impacted by debris. Beaches and jetties will be covered by deep water. This is NOT the time to be on beaches and jetties."

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The impact of the high surf will "likely be most severe around the high tide between noon and 2 p.m."

Beachcombers are encouraged to stay off the beach, forecasters said.

"Waves will run up much higher on the beaches than normal. These waves will be powerful and can sweep people off jetties and other exposed rocks. They can also easily move large logs and other beach debris," forecasters said.

Mariners also face peril.

"Bar crossings and the surf zone will be especially dangerous due to strong currents and breaking waves," forecasters warned.

That poses a danger to roads or buildings near beaches.

"Ocean water will rush much further up beaches and jetties than normal. Structures and roads located immediately at beach level will likely be inundated by waves and damaged by debris. Many beaches, jetties, and rocky out croppings will be covered by deep water. Beach erosion is possible," forecasters said.

The conditions prompted forecasters to issue a High Surf Warning and a Coastal Flood Warning.

"A High Surf Warning indicates that dangerous, battering waves will pound the shoreline. This will result in life-threatening conditions. Stay off jetties and piers since they can be quickly inundated by the heavy surf," forecasters said. "Or...better yet...just stay away."

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