What’s a King Tide, you ask? And why should you or your family care? Despite the somewhat sexist name (there are no Queen Tides, for example), King Tides are happening THIS WEEK, on OUR COAST, and they’re significant right now for several reasons. So with no further ado, I’m going to explain a little about what I have learned about King Tides and share some places to see them in the Bay Area. (Full disclosure: the pictures accompanying this article are actually from Santa Barbara, NOT the Bay Area. But they were taken during the King Tides of November. So that’s something.)
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration created a lovely infographic here that you should definitely check out as a nice overview. King Tides are the result of several converging phenomenon, and they result in extremely high/low tides. As we know, the tides go in and out related to the pull of the moon. When the full moon is at its perigee (the point at which it is closest to the earth), the gravitational pull is the strongest, leading to higher tides. Add El Niño to the mix, which generally leads to higher sea levels, and the possibility of coastal storms, and you have a veritable cornucopia of higher tide factors.
This is also important because with climate change, scientists are predicting that it is possible our “normal” tides will eventually look more like King Tides.
So what does this mean for you, Bay Area Family? It means that this week, you and your kiddos have the opportunity to see some very high tides. You also have the opportunity to participate in a Citizen Science project. What is #citizenscience, you say? It is a growing number of projects that ask regular citizens (yes, you! or your kids!) to help out with various scientific data collecting tasks in order to increase the ability of scientists to understand what is happening in our world. Many citizen science projects can help track much more data than would be available, were we to only rely on scientists. For the upcoming King Tides, taking pictures of the tides at their highest and lowest points, and then uploading them to the King Tides Project documents the changing tides in the Bay Area.
For directions on how to participate in the King Tides #citizenscience project by taking pictures of high and/or low tides, read here. For suggestions of where to see King Tides around us, check here (notable sites include Stinson Beach in Marin, Ocean Beach in SF, or Pacifica, south of San Francisco). However, you may be able to see extremely high water in places like the Embarcadero in San Francisco. Here are some pictures from November’s King Tides. Remember that these tides are going to be very huge, and make sure you take appropriate safety precautions. Low tide recommendations include the tidepools near Pigeon Point’s Lighthouse, Fitzgerald Marine Reserve (with more than 10 people, you need to make a reservation) or Agate Beach, in Bolinas (West Marin).
And then, for the extremely important tide chart, look HERE. This will tell you what time the high/low tides are around the Bay Area. If you have kiddos off school and are not working yourself, Wednesday the 23rd looks like the Day Of King Tides 2015.
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