King Tides Are Here
Temperatures are just a bit cooler but Fall also brings King Tides.
What are King Tides?
“King Tides” is the popular, non-scientific term for high tides caused by the new moon phase of the lunar cycle. The gravitational pull with the moon allows these tides to run up to one foot above average. Higher tides can also be experienced with Fall’s full moons, too. Coupled with recent strong winds, South Floridians have been driving through flowing water under clear and sunny skies.
WHEN ARE THE PEAK KING TIDES?
- Aug 29-Sep 3, 2019
- Sept 26-Oct 3, 2019
- Oct 25-31, 2019
- Nov 24-28, 2019
Late summer and early fall storms and tropical activity can amplify the affects of these super tides. For example, on a recent Saturday morning, the tide measured at Virginia Key reached 2.94 feet above mean sea level, the second highest water level of the year. Virginia Key also recently recorded a slightly higher tide of 2.95 feet, but this was a Hurricane Dorian-assisted storm surge, according to Brian McNoldy, a Senior Research Associate at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School.
HOW WILL YOUR AREA BE AFFECTED?
Coastal Miami and Ft. Lauderdale have and will experience both flowing and standing water in low-lying areas. Both cities have deployed sandbags – a limited protection – and temporary pumps to keep the water at bay. Drains have been cleared, and valves installed to help lower canal levels. Further up South Florida’s coast, Delray Beach and Boynton Beach have seen streets underwater. South Florida’s more westerly communities are generally not affected, other than higher-than-usual water levels in canals.
ARE KING TIDES NEW?
No. King Tides are the result of the earth’s gravitational pull in autumn, but they are getting worse with climate change and rising water levels. The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently released a bleak special report about how the oceans will be affected by climate change. The report states that world-wide, sea levels rose nearly six inches during the 20th century. Alarmingly, this trend has accelerated: oceans are now rising at twice that rate and are beginning to outpace even this. Rising sea levels will increase the likelihood of “extreme sea-level events,” such as those during high tides and storms. Flood risks, ocean temperatures, tropical cyclone winds, rainfall, and storm surges will increase and threaten coastal areas.
When it comes to King Tides, where you live makes all the difference. Are you in a low-lying area that’s already prone to flooding? South Florida’s coastal communities are paradise on cool, dry days but frequent flooding is already affecting home values to reflect the cost and aggravation of flooding.
WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?
Check the website for your city and county. For example, Palm Beach County’s Office of Resilience posts an informative and helpful page on King Tides at https://discover.pbcgov.org/resilience/Pages/King-Tides.aspx. The very fact that Palm Beach County has an Office of Resilience and provides an informative forum on climate-related topics speaks on the pervasive effects of climate change. Other cities also offer information specific to your area, such as Sunny Isles’ webpage on King Tides at https://www.sibfl.net/kingtides/.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO KEEP SAFE?
Avoid walking through flood waters. Currents can be strong, and anything could be swirling in the waters, such as snakes or garbage.
Avoid driving through flooded areas by finding another way. Again, currents can be unexpectedly strong, and there can be deep dips in streets. Salt water can also lead to both short- and long-term damage to your car.
Follow posted road closure and detour signs. Don’t try to sneak around them!
Watch for waves, created by passing cars and yourself.
Be careful around manhole covers, as they can become dislodged by the high tides.
For boaters, high tides can result in lower clearage beneath bridges.