Newfoundland’s weather is wilder than most places in Canada and the fall and early winter are often particularly windy and stormy.
This is because the Northern Hemisphere is beginning to cool off as the spring season comes to the Southern Hemisphere.
The temperature contrast between the tropics and Arctic areas starts to increase and this produces greater pressure differences which translates to an increased frequency of storms and changeable weather. Watching large waves pound into a rocky shore is appealing to many people, and in western Newfoundland we have a number a good wave watching sites.
Even though we are not facing the open Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of St. Lawrence can develop large waves when strong west and southwest winds hit the west coast. Our closest good place for wave watching from Corner Brook is at Bottle Cove on the south shore of the Bay of Islands.
If you take the short walking trail out to the rocky headland you can really feel the brunt of the wind. We have been out on the point when you could barely stand up because the wind was so strong. On another visit, softball-sized clumps of ocean foam were being whipped up and blown over the headland. We had to dodge them as we walked along the cliff edge.
This past fall on a bus tour that I was guiding for a cruise ship visit, we stopped at Lobster Cove Head in Gros Morne National Park on a particularly windy day. The sun was in and out of the clouds, and although it was a struggle getting to the lighthouse in the wind, all of the visitors loved watching the waves pound into the shoreline.
The park has created many short walking trails that give fine elevated views of the ocean and each vista offers a different perspective of waves and spray. I had difficulty gathering up the passengers that day to move on to our next stop, since everyone was so busy snapping pictures.
Of course this is also the day I decided to leave my camera back in Corner Brook since the forecast was for cloud and showers.
Another recent wave-watching episode was at Port au Choix and the hiking trail that winds along the coast. Here the waves were striking the eroded limestone shoreline and in one location where the waves struck a vertical rock face, spray was sent several metres into the air.
Of course you need to be careful of large waves and ensure that you are not too close to the ocean.
It seems that every year people get washed out to sea when they venture too close to large waves in places like Peggy’s Cove, N.S.
Here is an interesting website that simulates wave sizes for the Atlantic Ocean so you can see when large waves are to hit certain areas stormsurfing.com/cgi/display.cgi?a=natla_height.
We are sure there are many other places that are great for wave watching along the west coast, so if you know of other places send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contributors Keith and Heather Nicol live in Corner Brook and are avid explorers of Newfoundland. Keith can be reached at email@example.com