Video shows hazards of 'sneaker wave' near Coos Bay, Ore.

By Andrew V. Pestano  |  Jan. 26, 2016 at 7:37 AM
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COOS BAY, Ore., Jan. 26 (UPI) -- A video has surfaced showing a "sneaker wave" near Coos Bay, Ore., illustrating the unpredictability and possible danger of the shoreline event.

A sneaker wave occurs often when two waves have an unpredictable interaction against each other or against a rocky shoreline -- generating a rushing wave that can potentially overwhelm and carry anyone on the beach into the ocean.

Steve Raplee, a restaurant-owner and chef, recorded the event in the Oregon town of Charleston, less than 10 miles from Coos Bay.

In the video, Raplee films waves battering against a rocky Oregon shoreline as a boy, his dog and several other people stand at the beach. Before long, a "sneaker wave" appears.

"Uh oh. Time to go here," Raplee says in the video as he begins running away from the oncoming wave. "Get out of the way!"

"Whoa, that was scary. That's a big sneaker wave," Raplee says while standing atop higher ground. "My God that's huge. I just got out of the way. Could have taken anybody in its path. Look at that. Holy -- you-know-what. Everybody made it out."

The National Park Service describes sneaker waves as "an unexpectedly large wave, higher, stronger and reaching farther up the beach to levels far beyond where the normal waves reach."

"Beach goers, particularly children, can quickly be caught in the rip current and pulled out to deep water. If the person can not escape the current, they may drown," the National Park Service writes.

Sneaker waves can also move around large driftwood logs that can fall on people, causing death or injury.

"Even though the ocean may appear calm, there is still the potential for sneaker waves," the National Park Service adds. "Larger waves, moving fast, pick up smaller waves and carry them toward the beach. Some people erroneously think that sneaker waves can be predicted, i.e., every fourth or fifth wave, but in truth they are unpredictable. They can occur at any time, day or night, during incoming and outgoing tides, during storms and during sunny calm weather."

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