Sunday, December 26, 2010
The Pacific Ocean was sighted for Europeans early in the 16th century by the Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa who crossed the Isthmus of Panama in 1513 and on first sight, named it Mar del Sur. Its current name was given by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan during his world circumnavigation in 1521, who encountered calm seas during the journey and called it Tepre Pacificum.
For most of Magellan's voyage from the Strait of Magellan to the Philippines the explorer found the ocean peaceful indeed. However the Pacific is not always peaceful.
The Pacific Ocean encompasses approximately one-third of the Earth's surface, having an area of 179.7 million square kilometers, significantly larger than Earth's entire landmass.
Within the belts of the westerly winds, cold easterly winds from polar regions meet the warm westerly winds of the middle latitudes causing formations of characteristic traveling depressions. The zone of convergence, or polar front, is most strongly developed in winter when the contrast in temperature and humidity between the conflicting flows is greatest.
The Pacific may be peaceful at times but it is also known for its devastating storms. The southern edge of the polar front settles over the central Oregon coast, creating a chilling monsoon which lasts all winter and later into the summer months every year.
But sometimes, in late fall, the ocean is calm and kind. Though land and water temperatures remain cool, winds drop and peace prevails.
The view looking west on a recent trip from South Beach to Coos Bay, Oregon. 100 miles of beautiful northeastern Pacific shore.