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Climate and Environment

King Tides Are Back. Here's How To Safely See Them And Why They're A Glimpse Into The Future

An aerial picture shows a man riding his bicycle along a flooded section of a bike path.
A look at a king tide in Mill Valley, Calif. last January. King tides are back this weekend along the coast.
(Josh Edelson
AFP via Getty Images)
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The King Tides are back this weekend. That means tides will be at their highest (up to 7 feet) and their lowest ( up to 2 feet) across California's coast.

Why this happens

The sun, moon and earth are are aligned, which creates a gravitation pull that causes both higher and lower tides than normal.

Why it matters

Annelisa Moe, a water scientist with Heal The Bay, says the high tides also give us a glimpse into the end of the century when sea levels are forecast to be much higher. With much of California's coast at sea level, even small increases in tides could have devastating impacts.

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What they looked like Saturday

How to check them out, safely

Folks can celebrate the natural phenomenon with Heal the Bay tomorrow, Sunday, Jan. 22, at two locations:

  • Santa Monica Pier, 1600 Ocean Front Walk, 8:15 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
  • Manhattan Beach Pier, 2 Manhattan Beach Blvd. (by the bike path/clock tower area), 8:30 a.m. to 9:15 a.m.

Or, if you want to venture solo, plan to hit the beach by 8:57 a.m., that's when the tide will highest.

And if you want to help document these tides, the California King Tides project is looking for photos and offers this advice:

The most important thing to remember is to be safe! Take extra precautions when you walk on slippery areas or near big waves, and always be conscious of your surroundings and the weather conditions. Don't turn your back on the ocean! Please be aware that shore birds may be taking refuge in areas above the tide line - don't flush them out in the process of getting your shot.

Some of the most powerful images are taken in areas that are subject to flooding and erosion, and of places where high water levels can be gauged against familiar landmarks (such as cliffs, rocks, roads, buildings, bridge supports, sea walls, staircases, and piers).

In addition to uploading your photos, you can also share them on social media using #kingtides. We'll be liking and sharing your posts throughout the King Tides season.
What questions do you have about Southern California?