King Tide

The intersection of Albany and West End avenues in Atlantic City is experiencing increased flooding.

Steve Jasiecki

You may have noticed last weekend that the tide was quite a bit higher then usual, even for a full moon. This particular high tide is predicable and is referred to as a “king tide."

Tides are the result of the moon’s gravitational pull on the Earth. The sun, to a lesser degree, also has an influence on tides. As the Earth rotates toward the moon, the moon’s gravitational attraction tugs on the oceans, causing the sea to rise toward it.

“Neap tides” occur when the sun and moon are at right angles to the Earth. The sun’s opposing position negates some of the moon’s gravitational influence, causing an average tidal bulge.

“Spring tides” (no relation to the season) occur during the full and new moon. When the sun, moon and Earth are in line, the combined gravitational pull has a stronger effect on the oceans, creating higher than average tides.

Because the moon orbits the Earth in an ellipse rather then a circle, the distance between Earth and moon varies, bringing us sometimes closer and farther apart. When the moon is at it closest approach to the Earth the gravitational pull is stronger. Combine the close Earth-moon position with a spring tide and you get an extraordinarily high tide. This is the king tide.

Often considered a nuisance tide, king tides can cause minor flooding and have an impact on traffic. However, coastal flooding has gotten worse throughout the years. Areas that flooded occasionally are now seeing more frequent flooding. These areas are now at a greater risk if a storm should occur during a high tide. Areas that are affected by the king tide now are an indication of what can be expected in the future.

A program called the King Tide Project is designed to gather and study flood data. Analysts are asking citizens to submit photographs of affected areas. The photos will provide a historical record so they can monitor the rate of changes that occur. This data will identify vulnerable areas that will be most affected by future sea level rise.

Understanding the dynamics of what is occurring will help the general public and various agencies determine what proactive steps need to be taken.

You can learn more about the project and contribute information by visiting or the Jacques Cousteau Estuarine Research Reserve Facebook page at

Sustainable Downbeach is working toward creating a healthier, friendlier community with an eye on protecting the environment. For information or to get involved see Sustainable Downbeach on Facebook.

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