‘Tis the season for King Tides. King Tides are the highest naturally occurring tides of the season.

What causes King Tides is a unique combination of gravitational forces that peaks during the winter season. The sun, moon and earth all align, the moon is closest to the earth and at the same time, the earth is between the moon and sun producing greater gravitational pull on the oceans.

The moon has the greatest impact on tides as it rotates around the Earth about every 29 days versus the sun.  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 we see the highest tides of the year, King Tides.

King Tides by themselves can cause some minor tidal overflow flooding of low lying coastal areas including the North Sound. More problems can occur if weather is active.

If a storm with lower atmospheric pressure coincides with a King Tide, then a higher tidal anomaly can occur, meaning the already naturally occurring very high tide will be even higher. If the storm is also producing strong winds, wave action can result in greater coastal flooding damage.

In late October 2003, such a King Tide and strong wind event occurred in the North Sound. The most memorable damage happened at Ivar’s Restaurant next door to the Mukilteo ferry terminal when wind driven waves on top of a very high tide sent water into the restaurant.

Another similar stormy King Tide event occurred during the morning of December 17th in 2012.  A number of places throughout the Puget Sound coastal region suffered high water and wave action damage, including water and drift logs into homes.

These kinds of King Tide events are likely to occur in the future, particularly with more shoreline property development. North Sound shoreline property owners can take action now to help avoid damage such as reinforcing seawalls and other protective structures.

In reviewing the tide prediction tables for Everett, here are the next very high or King Tides the rest of this winter season.

Everett High/King Tides

December 2-4 – peaks at about 11.75 feet

December 14-18 – a streak of days of 12.5 foot plus high tides

January 12-15 – a streak of days of 12.5 foot plus high tides

February 10-12 – several days of 12 foot plus high tides

The highest or naturally occurring King Tide of the entire winter season is expected on December 16th at 12.92 feet.

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 new everettpost.com weather page, the National Weather Service at weather.gov/seattle/ , your local NOAA Weather Radio station or other local media sources.

North Sound Meteorologist Ted Buehner worked more than 40 years for the National Weather Service (NWS) from 1977 to 2018. He is now an Everett Post Media team member. Together with Everett Post Weather Minute Podcasts, he provides morning and afternoon commute traffic and weather updates on both KRKO and KXA Radio, and sports reporting on KRKO.