King Tides to Hit Marin Beaches, Waterways This Week

The extreme high tides starting Wednesday offer a glimpse into what rising ocean levels could look like in the future.

Commuters headed to San Francisco and sight-seers headed to Muir Woods got a taste of an extreme "high tide" Tuesday when Caltrans was forced to shut down the Hwy. 101-Hwy. 1 interchange around the Manzanita Park-and-Ride because of an unusually high tide.

High tide is expected to really live up to its name the rest of this week starting Wednesday as the King Tide phenomena pounds the California coastline with the year's biggest tides.

Beaches will vanish and bay waters will lap inches below the San Francisco International Airport's runway during the King Tide phenomena Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, according to officials from the California King Tides Initiative, an crowd-sourcing effort to document the high sea levels. 

“King Tides” are high tides that occur when the gravitational pull of the sun and the moon are in alignment, according to the group. The tides happen about once a month, but the larger events typically occur in the winter when there is storm activity. High tides through Friday are the biggest of 2012.

The California King Tides Initiative encourages people to take and submit photos of the high water levels, especially against iconic backdrops such as bridges or seawalls. Researchers can then use the photos to track water levels and changes over time. The Initiative collected photos last winter as well.

The photos provide a sneak peak into what rising sea levels could look like in California, an area that could experience up to a 2-foot increase by 2050, according to the Sea Level Rise Report from the National Academy of Science.

"We are trying to create a living archive of images we can all use to communicate about sea level rise," the initiative's coordinator, Heidi Nutters, of the Tiburon-based San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, to Hi the San Jose Mercury News. "Climate change is not only about polar bears in the Arctic. It's about what's happening on our coasts right now and today."

Researchers told the Mercury News the live views of higher sea levels are an educational opportunity for the general public.

"It's not just a model," Gary Griggs, director of the Institute of Marine Sciences at UC Santa Cruz, said in the Mercury News.

The King Tides are expected to hit in the morning and around the noon hour in Marin and throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Here are some predicted King Tides in Marin and the North Bay, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Location King Tide-
Wednesday King Tide-
King Tide-
Friday Corte Madera Creek 7.1 ft., 10:21 a.m. 7.1 ft., 11:10 a.m. 6.98 ft., 12 p.m. Gallinas Creek 7.3 ft., 11:03 a.m. 7.3 ft., 11:52 a.m. 7.2 ft., 12:42 p.m. Point San Quentin 7.1 ft., 10:27 a.m. 7.1 ft., 11:16 a.m. 7 ft., 12:06 p.m. Sausalito 6.93 ft., 9:55am 6.96 ft., 10:44am 6.84 ft., 11:34am Petaluma River Entrance 7.56 ft., 11:08am 7.61 ft., 11:57a, 7.47 ft., 12:47pm Sonoma Creek Entrance 6.77 ft., 11:20am 6.82 ft., 12:09pm 6.7 ft., 12:59pm Napa River

8.7 ft., 11:50am

8.76 ft., 12:39pm 8.6 ft., 1:29pm

King Tides also bring extreme low tides, so enjoy afternoons with lots of exposed beach—perfect for tide pooling and beach combing.

To upload photos to the California King Tides Initiative Flickr group, go here. Share you photos on Patch also. Just click the green camera icon below the YouTube video.


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