If you’ve visited California this fall or perhaps you have friends that live on or near the coast, perhaps you’ve heard stories about the extremely high tides and epic wave action – enter some explanations from NOAA. Californians living on the coast may be used to seeing so-called “King Tides,” a regular phenomenon where high tides are higher than normal on certain days of the year. This winter, King Tides — known to scientists as perigean spring tides — are even higher due to El Niño, causing flooding in low-lying areas of California’s coast.
Over Thanksgiving, observed tides at several NOAA tide stations in Southern California were higher than ever measured before, even during storms, which caused minor flooding around San Diego. Californians may see similar high water levels from December 21-26, when more King Tides are predicted to occur. Flooding impacts may become significantly worse if King Tides coincide with a coastal storm.
King Tides occur several times a year around the U.S. when the moon is either new or full (aligned with the Earth and sun) and is closest to the Earth (perigee).