Monday, January 18, 2010


Tuesday morning, January 5th, and one of the highest tides of the year was predicted for 8am. The tide arrived at about 13.3' (Seattle gauge). High, although not terribly dramatic. A 13' tide is typically sufficient to begin to flood the berm of some beaches - like the Sculpture Park beach shown here.

We get an average of 8 or so 13' tides every year in Seattle - although the actual number varies. In strong El Nino years, when sea level is higher up and down the west coast, we may get 25-30 (1983 and 1998), but there are also years in which we never get a tide higher than 13'.
Our highest tides tend to come with storms and strong low pressure - the highest recorded tide in Seattle is almost 2' higher than this morning's.

In some parts of the world, the highest tides of the year are referred to as King Tides. And speaking of kings, King Canute (paleo Britain, 1000 years ago) did not go to the beach to hold back the tides, as some suggest. He went to the beach to show his overly enthusiastic followers that he did not have the power to control the tides.

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