Signs of things to come? King Tides may foretell how sea-level rise will affect coastal areas

King Tide at Cama Beach, Camano Island, WA. December 17, 2012. Photo: John Pryor
King Tide at Cama Beach, Camano Island, WA. December 17, 2012. Photo: John Pryor. From WA Dept. of Ecology’s Washington King Tide Photo Initiative

Today is the official first day of winter, but we’ve already experienced a good amount of winter-like weather: rain, wind, storm surges, and snow in the lowlands.

Add in nearly record high tides, and the stage is set for flooding, landslides, and more. The Kitsap Sun’s blog “Watching our Water Ways” featured photographs from residents showing how King Tides inundated areas all over the county earlier this week, with near record-breaking high tides.

King Tides are an annual event that occurs when the sun and moon align, causing an increased gravitational pull  on the Earth’s oceans. For this winter season, the first phase of King Tides in December is just about history. The next (and last) King Tides for winter 2012-2013 will  take place in mid-January.

The January tides won’t be quite as high as this week’s tides, but they could still pack a punch if accompanied by high winds and a lot of rain.

For people who study weather and climate change, these super high tides, combined with the right kind of weather conditions, give a picture of what sea-level rise might look like in the future.

Share your King Tide photos
The Washington Department of Ecology is looking for photos, specifically of the higher-than-usual tides, around western Washington. The project to gather photos is aimed at documenting how very high tides affect the natural environment and our coastal infrastructure. So come January 10, 2013 or so, get out your cameras and share your photos.

More information about King Tides and how to submit your photos.

View photos of King Tide events in Washington

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