King Tides Flood SF Coast, Spark Global Warming Debate

San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge (Associated Press)
Associated Press
San Diego, CA

On Tuesday, the Pacific Ocean breached a seawall at San Francisco’s Embarcadero, causing minor flooding and inconveniencing those traveling along the shoreline. Rising along with the tide was discussion over the provocative global warming-climate change debate.

The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a coastal hazard message Wednesday for “king tides,” coinciding with the new moon.. Wednesday afternoon will bring extreme low tide in contrast to morning high tide.

Parking lots, coastal trails, sidewalks, underpasses and roadways are among locations the NWS warns coastal travelers may see minor flooding.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported, “People who study king tides say the occasional high water of today will be the new normal in a few decades, because of rising sea water caused by global warming.” The Chronicle cited the words of King Tides Project co-founder Marina Psaros: “This is what San Francisco will look like on an average day in 2050.”

Marine Science Australia describes a king tide as “a popular term for an especially high tide, such as a perigean spring tide. King tide is not defined in scientific terms, nor is it used in a scientific context. Use of the term “king tide” originated in Australia, New Zealand and other Pacific nations to refer to an especially high tide that occurs only a few times per year.”

MSA goes on to detail, “During normal weather conditions, the height of the king tides will be similar from year to year. However in abnormal weather conditions (severe storms or cyclones) the low air pressures and strong winds at these times can elevate the sea level above the expected height.”

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