The forecast was not looking good. There was the melodic pitter, patter of rain combined with stimulating gusts of 50+ mph winds, friendly warnings of high surf and the cozy guarantee of fog. The cherry on top was the encouraging statistic of 100% chance of precipitation, leaving not much on the positive percentage side for good weather. They don’t call this the wet side of Oregon for nothing, you know.

But this is not just Oregon. This is the Coast of Oregon and anything can happen.

Sometimes the rain leaves the best sunsets

Sometimes the rain creates the best sunsets

Having spent close to 3 weeks out here I’m already well versed in the fact that the weather forecasts are…well…pretty much useless. It may rain like a monsoon madness in the morning, blow over with fog by noon and then spring out in summer-worthy sun just a few hours later.

You just never know….

Nonetheless my curiosity was piqued. IS there a perfect time to visit the wild and moody Oregon coast? DOES there exist the idyllic panacea of perfect weather window for the enterprising traveller? These philosophical questions demanded an answer and so I did a little research:

1/ The Oregon Coast Is Wet

Now, there’s really no disputing this. Much like the Eskimo’s have over 100 words for snow, local Oregonites are very liberal and forgiving in their description of rain. Having lived for 3 years in England I totally understand this phenomenon. A “light dusting of pleasant drops” would simply be described as a great, bloody rain-cloud anywhere else. It rains here rains alot.  But there ARE what you would call drier seasons. As it turns out July is consistently the driest month in Oregon and the description holds (more or less) through September. Winter is consistently the wettest month.

Coastal Data 1971-2000, from

Then again, this was the news on weatherundergound as of this morning:

“A record rainfall of 1.18 inch(es) was set at Astoria or yesterday. This breaks the old record of 0.82 set in 1948″

Which leads me back to the original conclusion of you just never know…

2/ The Oregon Coast is Foggy

A misty afternoon on the coast

So, let’s say you’ve scrutinized the numbers and finally decided to come visit the coast in summer. Ahhh, but you see you’ve forgotten to take into account the altitude of the inversion boundary layer combined with the multitude of  hygroscopic particles over the coast. In other words you forgot to think about the bleedin’ fog. To put this into perspective you need only remember those famous words popularly attributed to Mark Twain (altho’ there’s some controversy on that point) that “the coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco“.

He was talking about the fog and the point is it can get reaaly foggy on the coast, especially during summer when the hotter inland temperatures essentially “suck in” the humidity on the coast (called advection fog). Generally fog is less likely to form in winter and spring when temperature gradients are more moderate, suggesting late spring or early fall as the best options, but I’ve seen other reports saying you can get fog just about anytime out here. Case-in-point, Cape Dissapointment (just North of Astoria) is well known as one of the foggiest points on the coast. Once again we land back at the wise original statement of you just never know….

3/ The Oregon Coast Can Surprise You

A perfectly calm, blue day in Sept on the Coast

No matter what you read or how you interpret the data it seems that, anytime of year the Oregon Coast can surprise you. The weather here is such a complex dance of interacting factors, compounded by outside events such as El Niño/La Niña that you really can’t tell. September, from everything I’ve seen, seems to be one of the best months -> it’s relatively dry, less foggy and more moderate than most other, but I’ve also heard of great moments in Spring and even days of warmth in Winter.

The bottom line is if you’re coming to the coast you better expect a bit of everything. There will almost certainly be rain, most likely fog, undoubtedly some wind, but also bursts of beautiful and stunning weather. In truth…you just never know

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30 Responses to Chance of Precipitation: 100% -> Musings On The OR Coast Weather

  1. Syl says:

    The weather may be wet there but you’ve made the best of it. Your photos are beautiful!

  2. gumo says:

    Just recently found your blog when I was reading the Bayfield Bunch. I enjoyed your top 10 of the RVing lifestyle. Thanks for your hard work, inspiration and great photos.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Happy to have you along for the ride! I’ve been following the Bayfield Bunch for a while now. Always has nice shots on there too!

  3. I’ve never been to Oregon, but I’ve been to Ithaca, NY. Although, in Ithaca we just say “fog.” We have 100 words for winter precip. So, is Oregon awesome? When I was a kid, and our only source of information was a six-year-old Encyclopedia Americana, I took Oregon under my wing, because it seemed exotic, and was Washington’s less-popular kid sister.

    • libertatemamo says:

      YES…Oregon is awesome in every way of the word. Definitely enjoying our trip here. You duck would fit right in.

  4. Marsha says:

    STOP…I can’t take any more. We are going there next summer. I want warm, beautiful, rainless days.

  5. Sheila says:

    Nina, I don’t know how you have outdone yourself with these photos, but YOU HAVE OUTDONE YOURSELF. They are simply glorious! (all of your photos are beautiful!). However, these I guess just speak to me a little more! I love the one with Paul. I love the Oregon Coast. Enjoy your time there!

    • libertatemamo says:

      Thanks Sheila. I have to admit that first shot w/ Paul is one of my favorites too. He wasn’t much for posing, but did appreciate it once he saw the shot :)

  6. “Chance of Precipitation: 100%” — LOL!

    In the small town I grew up in (Grants Pass) in southern Oregon, there’s a sign that spans the main road that says “It’s the Climate!” Damn Oregon weather is just all over the place. :)

  7. We can agree with Mark Twain. Suzy and I both worked in San Francisco for some years, and ol’ Sam Clemens was right! And it’s a well-known fact that those of us born in Oregon (Jerry, not Suzy) have webbed feet. It’s also true that in Portland, at least, people often go walking in short sleeve shirts in the rain. You just never know!

    • libertatemamo says:

      Oh I’m totally with you. Hubby and I lived in San Francisco for close to 10 years so we totally get the whole fog thing and definitely agree w/ the quote. We always used to get excited when winter was coming around…finally sun and warmth! :)

  8. odderanswer says:

    It’s probably why Brits feel so at home in Oregon. We can carry on talking endlessly about weather. Not like those boring parts of the world where weather is nearly predictable.

  9. […] had a fun musing on this topic a few posts back, but it just bears repeating. The weather on the Oregon coast can change on a dime. Don’t […]

  10. […] silly adventures and spent a rich month on the northern coastline by the beach. We’ve seen every kind of weather, gorgeous lighthouses, even more kinds of views and enough to let us know we’ve got to come […]

  11. […] the key in summer!). We had a few really hot and dry days, a good couple of really windy ones, some crazy Oregon weather and a single really cold spell, but overall we avoided almost all the bugs (yeah!) and did really […]

  12. […] to the Oregonites spectacularly broad view of rain. We came to understand the gentleman as we travelled along the OR coast last year and we were happily re-introduced as we entered Eugene last week-end. This is Eastern Orgeon baby […]

  13. […] my weather-snout is not infallable, and our experience from last year tells me we’re gonna get plenty of weather “moods” over the next few months, but […]

  14. […] our beloved Oregon. Moist, temperamental, green and varied Oregon. Despite the rain (can you say 100% chance of precipitation?), despite the occasional chill there is no place I’d rather be right […]

  15. […] see moisture is a thing of inevitability on the coast. Many Oregonians, especially those who reside on the “dry” side joke about the […]

  16. Modemi says:

    ….never trust air you can’t see! I can handle most any weather as long as things are not getting damaged…but what I can’t stand is…”white sky” . When nothing has a shadow. Hate it. Hurts my eyes. Lewis Black said something like.. too many days of white sky could make a person slit their wrists just to see a little color.
    Carry on.

  17. […] Chance of Precipitation: 100% -> Musings On The OR Coast Weather […]

  18. Kathy Parker says:

    We spent a few weeks there this past summer. We are from Pa. And it was almost too hot to pack when we left. Not so in Oregon! I loved it! Now your pictures make me want to go back. :-)

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