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King tides offer a glimpse of the future

King tides offer a glimpse of the future

SAN DIEGO – As coastal communities prepare for king tides beginning in January, many other groups plan to work overtime tracking them.

The year’s highest tides are generally referred to as king tide.


What You Need to Know

  • The highest tides of the calendar year are generally referred to as king tides.
  • The gravitational forces exerted by the sun and moon cause tides
  • King tides are a great way to see what the coast will look like when sea levels rise.
  • An extreme high tide will result in water levels equal to moderate tides more often in the future.

Andrew Meyer, director for conservation at the San Diego Audubon Society, said, “King tide” is a great community project because it’s dramatic and it’s easy to take photos and say, ‘I know that place and it doesn’t usually look like that’.”

Meyer stated that king tides are a great way to see what the coast might look like as sea level rises. The water level attained by an extremely high tide will match the water level at moderate tides more often in the future. This information can be used to plan for the future by identifying areas that flood during these events.

Meyer is just one of many Californians who take photos with their phones when the king tide phenomenon occurs. Citizen scientists are crucial for helping scientists capture data on the big day.

Meyer said, “It is a very dramatic visual representation of what sea level will look like in future because today’s high tides will become next decade’s regular tides.”

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Skyler McManus is always on the lookout for such forecasts.

McManus, who owns Hamel’s surf shop at Mission Beach, said that it is “kind of amazing”. The building is only a few steps away from the sea wall. “It’s amazing to see.”

McManus stated that water would hit the sea wall and shoot up. “That’s just how crazy it can get, and you’d just be drenched walking down. Then, water would flow down into Mission Boulevard. It can get crazy.

Meyer stated, “It’s predicting the future.” It’s showing us how sea level rise will affect our coastlines and what problems we need to address as a municipality and as a whole community.

The king tides will occur between Jan. 1 and 3. Visit the to learn how you can help capture them along the coast. California King Tides Project website.

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