With its broad sandy beach, countless piles of driftwood, and tall Sitka spruce trees lining its edge, North Cove's Washaway Beach appears just like many other areas in South Beach* or elsewhere on the Washington Coast. North Cove is also a rapidly eroding shoreline and a symptom of global meteorological changes, however, retreating an average of 46 feet per year.
According to the local Chinook Observer and a study published by The American Geophysical Union,
Scientists pin blame for West Coast beach erosion in 2009-10 on the El Niño Modoki (“pseudo” El Niño) phenomenon, a warming of waters in the central equatorial Pacific Ocean. (Classic El Niños like one in 1997-98 form in the eastern Pacific off the coast of South America.)
Energy in the 2009-10 Modoki sent bigger waves and higher ocean water levels surging into north-of-harbor mouths and tidal inlets.
Warmer waters in the central Pacific Ocean over the next few decades will mean increased erosion along the entire length of the West Coast.**
Standing on the edge of Highway 105 toward the southern end of the Jacobson's Jetty, you can see remnants of the highway's previous route. On the east side of the highway lies the North Cove Pioneer Cemetery. The cemetery's original location was washed away; coffins were actually disinterred and drifted up onto the shore, and luckily they were able to be collected and reburied in their current location.
Note: If planning to go clamming, be sure to check with the Washington Department of Fish + Wildlife for shellfish digging regulations before heading out.
** The El Niño in the winter of 1997-98 had the most dramatic affect in California at San Francisco's Ocean Beach, where it eroded a total of 184 feet in that single winter.