The Summer of Floods: King Tides in June, July, August…

, senior climate scientist | June 21, 2017, 9:22 am EDT
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Here in San Francisco, we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love with art installations, walking tours, and magic buses. But artists in Charleston, South Carolina, are documenting a very different sort of season: a Summer of Floods.

The National Weather Service has issued ten coastal flood advisories for Charleston, South Carolina, in the last three months and is likely gearing up to issue another. Just a few weeks after king tides sloshed their way through coastal towns from Salem to Honolulu, NOAA is projecting more tidal flooding late this week for every coastal region with the exception of the Gulf. And South Carolina is expecting king tides for nine of this year’s twelve months.

Tidal flooding has become more frequent

Once a rarity, since the 1950s the frequency of tidal flooding has increased 10-fold in places such as Atlantic City, Annapolis, and Baltimore and 5-fold in Charleston, Norfolk, and Philadelphia.

“King tide” is a colloquial term that typically refers to the highest of high tides, which occur when the moon is at its closet point to Earth and the Earth, moon, and sun align. But given how frequently such tides are occurring these days, we may need to introduce some new terms.

What to expect during king tide events

If this year’s past tidal flooding events are any guide for what’s in store over the next few days, here’s what coastal residents can expect this week:

Flooded neighborhoods.

King tide flooding Harleston Village, Charleston, South Carolina, in May 2017.

Flooding like this is widespread in South Carolina’s Lowcountry. According to the state’s official , floods like these wrap their way around churches and parking lots and send employees wading through intersections on their way to work.

Less access to waterfront parks and attractions
In places like Miami Beach, restaurant owners report seawater bubbling up through drains and flooding their businesses. And while tourists head to Waikiki for prime ocean access, the photos above suggest they’re getting more than their money’s worth.

Closed roads.

Like the groups that still gather today in Golden Gate Park, we at UCS have been beating this drum for years as king tides have become a common occurrence for coastal residents. As one of the most visible signs that our climate is changing, this week’s floods are a reminder that sea level is rising.

More king tides expected throughout summer and fall

We’d love to see your photos of king tides this week or to hear about your experiences in the comments!

Oh, and mark your calendars because king tide flooding is expected again July 22-24 and August 20-22. And then in September, we enter the typical king tide season, which lasts through the end of the year. As The Washington Post’s Alexandri Petri put it so brilliantly: “The beach is coming.”


Correction, Wednesday, June 21st, 2017 at 12:21pm: It is the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, not the 40th one as previously stated. 

Luke Schimmel;

Posted in: Global Warming Tags: , , ,

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