Jun 08 2018

King Tides: The Highest of High Tides

Many people have a general understanding of tides, but there’s one phenomenon that even the most seasoned of ocean lovers still finds incredible: king tides.

These tides are the highest of high tides. These are the ones that make it seem like the ocean is coming straight for you as it races under houses and spills into the roadway. While this is the most intense of tides, it’s a predictable, natural phenomenon.

All tides are caused by the movement of water across the surface of Earth. They are caused by gravitational forces that are exerted by the moon, sun and rotation of the planet. These forces cause sea levels to rise and fall in the form of tides.

When king tides occur, it is typically during a period of a new or full moon or when the planet is at its perigee, which means the time when the moon is at its closest point to Earth. The moon plays such a strong role in tides because it is so close to Earth and has a strong gravitational pull (twice as strong as the pull of the sun). Naturally, when there is a new or full moon and the planet is at its perigee, all of the elements that create a high tide are in full effect, resulting in a stronger-than-normal tide.

This type of tide happens three to four times a year. When it happens on the island, it results in localized flooding that generally recedes as soon as the tide changes. As the landscape of the beach changes with erosion, the flooding intensifies in some areas.

In one instance, a king tide actually caused a home on front beach to collapse into the water. This illustrates the strength of the ocean and the tides and how powerless we are with them most of the time.

To stay up to date with tides, feel free to bookmark our Edisto Beach tide charts that are updated online constantly. It’s important to know about the tides as they impact navigation in the ocean and tidal creeks, and some individuals prefer to swim in specific tides. Want to know when the next King Tide is predicted? Check out South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control page. 

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