King Tides offers a window into a bay area marked by the climate crisis


High tides – which on average are two feet above normal tides – flooded parts of San Francisco over the weekend. And in doing so, they gave us a glimpse of what the city might look like in the future with sea level rise.

Over the weekend, the moon, earth, and sun all entered a specific alignment, causing an unusually strong gravitational pull that caused the Bay Area coasts to experience rare high tides. In some areas like Half Moon Bay, the highest lunar tides of the year reached 6.7 feet at 9 a.m. – before dropping significantly to about 1.5 feet less than usual at 4 p.m. according to KRON4. Although high tides are normal events that can occur several times a year, they exacerbate sea level rise and can cause unusually severe coastal flooding.

This is exactly what happened this weekend in San Francisco.

Twitter was inundated with images showing a temporarily inundated San Francisco. The sidewalks along the Embarcadero were soaked in seawater; those who chose to catch their breath on the benches along wharf 39 found their feet soaked; Ocean Beach has seen a recent sand restoration project disappear into the ocean. (Other parts of the Bay Area also experienced these exaggerated tides – as evidenced by this tweet from cyclists crossing a partially submerged San Francisco Bay trail.)

Over the next three decades, the San Francisco Bay could swell nearly two feet, a figure that could more than triple by the turn of the century. Due to this looming climate disaster, the SF Port Commission released a report in November saying the city will need to raise parts of the Embarcadero by about 6 feet to avoid the worst flooding, according to KQED.

So … may the high tides of this weekend serve as a concrete – albeit tempered – example of what lies ahead, shouldn’t we move away from the worst of the climate crisis. And because the pictures are truly worth a thousand words, especially when it comes to natural phenomena, here are some of the most moving images of high tides on Saturday and Sunday.

Related: The embarcadero must be raised “two to seven feet” to prepare for flooding due to climate change

Photo: Getty Images / m-kojot



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