King tides leave beaches thin on Carolina coast
Tides are expected to be higher this week in coastal areas across the country.
That means more coastal flooding, potentially deadly ocean currents and less beach for everyone to enjoy as erosion washes swathes of sand away.
Low tides are also expected to be even lower, as the ocean reaches an extreme peak this week.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said higher-than-normal tides are expected in coastal areas of the U.S. July 12-16.
The Carolinas and the rest of the southeast, including Georgia and the eastern half of Florida, will see peak tides July 12-14, NOAA said in its high tide bulletin for the summer.
A phenomenon known as a “perigean spring tides” and commonly called “king tides” will be happening on these dates. That’s “when the moon is either new or full and is closest to the earth,” NOAA said. When the moon is close, higher than normal high tides, and lower than normal low tides are expected.
Higher-than-normal high tides alone do not necessarily cause coastal flooding, but they are becoming increasingly impactful because of continued sea level rise, which has led to more and more flooding even without the presence of storms, according to NOAA.
High tide flooding that causes a nuisance along the coast — flooded streets, washed out beaches — is more likely to happen during these times of year and can be even worse if there is heavy rain, strong winds or large waves.
Tides have already been increasing in the weeks leading up to the peak because of the position of the sun relative to the equator.
The typical sea level also is usually higher during this time because of changing weather patterns and increasing water temperatures.
The first hurricane to reach the southeastern United States so far this season is Hurricane Chris, which was a category 2 hurricane off the coast of North Carolina on Wednesday.
The storm had already caused deadly rip currents and dangerous surf. A Kill Devil Hills man died while swimming in rough surf on July 7.
During the period of extreme tides this week, tidal flooding, particularly in low lying areas is likely, according to NOAA, along with beach erosion.
North Carolina has already seen some of that from the effects of Chris, even though the storm was hundreds of miles offshore this week.
A Rodanthe house was crumbling into the ocean this week because of beach erosion, flooding and strong waves from Chris.
If a storm happens during this period, flooding could get even worse.
Coastal areas near tide stations at Fort Pulaski, Ga.; Myrtle Beach and Charleston, S.C. could see the greatest chance of high tide flooding, according to NOAA.
Maryland physical oceanographer Greg Dusek, who studies rip currents and tidal flooding advised people on the East Coast to be mindful of rip currents this week.
“There will be a perigean spring tide,” Dusek said. “This means potentially substatial changes in rip strength throughout the day and strongest at low tide.”