Press "Enter" to skip to content

King Tide season brings risk of coastal flooding

Strong surf causes property and road flooding in Sandy Point (December 4, 2016). Photo courtesy of Sandy Point Watch.

FERNDALE, Wash. — King Tide season is a time of predictable high tides. King Tides are the highest tides and occur when the moon and sun align, resulting in an increase in the gravitational pull exerted on the Earth’s oceans. 

By themselves, they pose little risk but combined with high winds and/or waves, they can result in coastal flooding. Ferndale area communities most at risk of such incidents include the Lummi Peninsula, Lummi Island and Sandy Point as well as Birch Bay, Blaine and Point Roberts further to the north.

King Tides are expected during the following 3 periods:

  • December 26th to December 30th
  • January 10th to January 16th
  • February 10th to February 11th

The Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Division of Emergency Management (DEM) has determined potential impacts are likely when either or both of the following occur during a King Tide.

  • sustained winds greater than or equal to 20 knots and from either the west, southwest, south or southeast
  • wave height greater than or equal to 2 feet

Tonight, December 26th, a gale warning is in effect until 4am tomorrow (Friday) for the northern inland waters including the San Juan Islands. DEM said in an email today, “Coastal communities in Whatcom County may see some tidal effects from this event.”

Winds will begin to pick up out of the south this afternoon between 10-20 MPH. Winds are expected to increase to gale force (30-40 MPH) late this afternoon into the first half of the overnight. As a result, wave heights will increase to 4 to 6 feet. Winds and waves will diminish into Friday morning as winds shifts to the west. Winds will increase out of the south again Friday night into Saturday as the next system arrives. Light winds and calm waters will persist Sunday-Monday. The combination of wind and waves near high tide could produce minor coastal flooding.  The highest tide during this period is 10.83’ at about 0730 tomorrow morning (includes tidal surge model).  As the effects of the Gale Winds will have passed, it is possible we may have some minor coastal flooding impacts Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Division of Emergency Management

My custom footer text