What is a King Tide?
The term “King Tide” is a non-scientific term used to describe the highest seasonal tides that occur each year. These extreme tides typically occur when a spring tide (when the sun, moon, and earth align during a new and full moon, increasing tide ranges) takes place when the moon is closest to Earth during the 28-day elliptical orbit (known as a perigee). This is scientifically referred to as a perigean spring tide.
Tide predictions, provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), are based on the astronomical tide calendar, which takes into account the gravitational pull of the moon and sun on Earth’s oceans. Water levels may, however, exceed predicted heights due to meteorological conditions such as precipitation, onshore winds, or low atmospheric pressure.
The effect of individual King Tides may vary considerably. King Tides may result in coastal erosion, flooding of low-lying areas, and road closures which may disrupt normal daily routines. This is particularly true when a King Tide coincides with significant precipitation because water drainage and runoff is impeded.
Flooding that takes place during a King Tide is often referred to as nuisance flooding. Nuisance flooding is the water level above the minor flooding threshold set locally by the National Weather Service.
Tips for Effective King Tides Photos
- Take pictures at or near peak high tide.
- Take pictures where the impact of the tide can be gauged against familiar landmarks like buildings, roads, sidewalks, parking lots, jetties, bridges, sea walls, shorelines, or bulkheads.
- Taking contrasting shots of peak high and peak low tides helps to show the tidal variability.
- Be Safe! Use good judgment when you are taking your photos. Stay away from dangerous situations particularly in stormy conditions and avoid taking risks.