I mentioned Mathew Hargreaves’ achievement a few weeks ago. He was the reader who undertook a two-year effort to document a genuine West Coast Sunrise over Water. He described his efforts as they unfolded in a series of comments on that earlier article. We’d speculated that one might be able to witness this unusual geo-oddity somewhere along Washington’s Olympic Peninsula but we didn’t have any proof. There were places, we believed, where the line of sight over the Strait of Juan de Fuca might be long enough to produce a sunrise over water at certain times of the years.
View Larger Map
Mathew scoured maps and narrowed the possibilities down to an area near Sekiu on the west side of Clallam Bay. He returned a number of times — at a hundred miles per round trip — until conditions were just right. The path of the sun and the notoriously fickle Pacific Northwest weather had to align and cooperate. That was no easy task and should never be taken for granted.
View Larger Map
He struck paydirt on September 20, 2011 as the sun rose at 7:01 am, to prove that a sunrise over water exists in at least one place on the West Coast of the Lower 48 United States. He described the location as "the beach at the northwest end of the protective jetty" in Sekiu. I’m going to assume that the magic spot is somewhere in the vicinity of the satellite view I provided above.
Mathew has very kindly offered to let me display some of his photographs to the loyal readers of the Twelve Mile Circle. For the record: all photographs in this article are “© 2011 Mathew Hargreaves; all rights reserved. Used with Permission.”
I’ve reduced the size for display purposes so feel free to open any of them in another tab to see them in the larger format.
This is a great shot Mathew took as the sun began to rise and a container ship coincidentally came into view. I also like smaller boats that he captured as they left Sekiu harbor. I think this might be my favorite image in the series.
Notice that the sun has emerged completely above the horizon without any landforms beneath it whatsoever. This is definitive proof of a west coast sunrise over water. It is the image that we had postulated long ago and that Mathew had been stalking all that time.
Mathew explained that he took three photographs and stitched them together to form this panoramic view. You’ll want to open this one in another tab for sure. Go ahead, I’ll wait. You can see Canada very faintly on the left part of the image with the eastern end of Sekiu harbor very distinctly on the right. The original image (not the version I have on the website) prints out to an astounding 11 inches by 35 inches!
Finally, another interesting perspective is provided in an infrared image.
It appears that this condition exists from around September 10-30 (and a corresponding period in March) so there are a maximum of forty opportunities per year. Combine that with prevailing weather conditions and I’ll be there aren’t but a handful of chances per year to observe this phenomenon in person. AND it only last for 10 minutes! There can’t be more than a scattering of people who have observed this phenomenon and understood its significance. This has to be an exceedingly select group.
If you like these images, I will gladly forward your contact information to Mathew and the two of you can work out an arrangement. Images will be processed from uncompressed TIFF files and will be printed on Fuji Crystal Archival paper. They will be absolutely stunning as compared to these much smaller, compressed jpeg images that you see here on 12MC.
Thank you again, Mathew. This is amazing.