‘Tis the season – King Tide season that is. The winter months are when the North Sound gets its highest astronomical high tides of the year.
King Tides are the highest tides that occur each winter season when the earth aligns between the moon and the sun, with the moon position closest to the earth, producing greater gravitational pull on the oceans.
Yet the sun’s position also plays a key role. During Earth’s annual rotation around the sun, it is closest to the sun in early January, maximizing the sun’s gravitational influence on tides. Hence, it is during the winter season that the highest tides of the year – King Tides – occur.
King Tides by themselves can cause some minor tidal overflow of low-lying Western Washington coastal areas including the North Sound. But if a storm with lower atmospheric pressure and strong winds coincides with a King Tide, then the tide will be even higher and wave action can produce much greater coastal flood damage.
Here are a couple of examples that highlight what stormy King Tides can do. In late October 2003, such a King Tide and strong wind event occurred. The most memorable damage happened at Ivar’s Restaurant next door to the former Mukilteo ferry terminal.
Another stormy King Tide event occurred on December 17th in 2012. A number of Puget Sound coastal locations suffered high water and wave action damage, including water and drift logs into homes – not a desired holiday gift under the tree.
In the next few months, there will be several King Tide periods noted on forecast tide charts. For Everett, greater than 12-foot tides:
– are occurring right now through December 9th,
– expected again from January 1st through the 7th,
– and once more from January 30th through February 4th.
The highest predicted King Tide of the season for Everett will be on January 4th at 13.1 feet.
Shoreline property owners can take action now to help avoid damage during stormy King Tides such as reinforcing seawalls and other protective structures.
You can remain informed in advance for potential North Sound coastal flooding, particularly by winter season exceptional high tides accompanied by stormy weather, by monitoring the everettpost.com weather page, the National Weather Service at weather.gov/seattle/, the all-hazard NOAA Weather Radio stations serving the North Sound at 162.55 MHz or 162.425 MHz, and other local media sources.