Weather Blog

These waves sure won't 'disappoint'

These waves sure won't 'disappoint'

With the deep low pressure center churning away off the B.C. coast earlier this week, it generated some massive swells across the eastern Pacific Ocean -- one buoy 315 miles offshore measured a wave of 43.3 feet! Closer to shore, they were about 30 feet high.

Where to go when the surf is angry? How about Cape Disappointment along the southern Washington coast, said to be one of the roughest areas for seas in North America.

The combination of distant storms out in the Pacific sending in massive waves toward the coast, combining with the wall of water heading out to sea from the Columbia River, make for treacherous conditions for boating, and the Coast Guard frequently conducts training in the rough seas. ("If you can handle Cape D, you can handle anything.")

But for wave watchers, it's a great place to witness the power of Mother Nature. Tyler Mode of Vancouver went down there when he heard of the big surf and took some great photographs:

And this site has some short videos he took.

You can see more of his fantastic photos on his Smugmug picture account.

Need more? Check out this 5 minute video on YouTube of "Cape D" during a storm on November 6, 2009:

How did Cape Disappointment Get Its Name?

According to, in early days the water looked so menacing that no one wanted to go explore it. The inlet was discovered and noted on a map by Spanish explorer Bruno de Heceta in 1775 and he marked it on his maps, but an outbreak of scurvy forced him to leave without exploring it further.

The website says a British captain John Meares tried to find Heceta's spot, never found it, called it Cape Disappointment and sailed on.