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All Hail the King Tide

King Tide Waikiki

Summer has arrived. And while beach weather is prevalent year-round in Hawaii, if you’re planning on paying a visit to the islands this summer you may notice the tide rolling in a little higher than usual. This summer Hawaii is experiencing a natural phenomenon known as a king tide, which – as its name implies – brings in a royal tide. This results in a higher than normal tide, which can result in flooding in areas we don’t typically see water, as well as smaller than normal shorelines and beach areas when the tide is in.

Simply put, ‘king tides’ are the highest level of ocean tides and are a result of the simultaneous occurrence of rising sea levels stacked upon growing sea swells. Although these abnormal sea-tuations aren’t a new phenomenon. This rare occurrence does not occur often in the islands, happening once in a straight moon – literally – or once every 100 years.

The king tide only happens when the Earth, Moon and Sun are perfectly aligned, a phenomenon also known as Perihelion. According to NOAA the most recent occurrence of king tides rolled ashore in Hawaii in April 2017 and measured at nine inches above normal tide levels. This was the highest recorded tide level in over 112 years.

But these high tides won’t be leaving soon. They are predicted to take place again throughout summer with occurrences – on June 23-24 and July 21-23, 2017 affecting most south shore beaches including Ala Moana and Waikiki.

In addition to creating some new tide pools for children to splash out in and royal-sized sets for surfers, these huge tides can also bring unwelcome changes to the isles with unexpected flooding along streets and flooding to low-lying areas. If you’re on the island during one of these tides, pay close attention when driving along oceanfront roads and streets.

When traveling to Hawaii this summer and holding court at the beach, be sure to check the tide calendar before heading out or you could be in for a royal surprise.

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