King Tide season is back, here’s how to prepare

Nov 28, 2023, 9:03 AM | Updated: 9:04 am

king tides...

On Dec. 27, 2022, king tides caused coastal flooding on parts of Day Island in Tacoma.

November is well underway and marks the start of King Tide season. The winter months are when the inland waters of Western Washington get its highest astronomical high tides of the year. So, what is a King Tide?

King Tides are the highest tides that occur during each winter season when the sun, moon and earth are all aligned. The earth rotates around the sun in an elliptical orbit, and during the winter season, our planet is closer to the sun in that orbit, resulting in a greater gravitational pull from the sun. When the moon is aligned with the sun, both produce a stronger gravitational pull on the oceans, resulting in King Tides.

More from Ted Buehner: National Climate Assessment shows increasing monetary damage of weather disasters

King Tides by themselves can cause some minor tidal overflow flooding of low-lying coastal areas for the inland waters of Western Washington. But if a storm with lower atmospheric pressure coincides with a King Tide, a higher tidal anomaly can occur. If the storm also produces strong winds, wave action can result in greater coastal flooding damage.

In late October 2003, such a King Tide and strong wind event occurred. The most memorable damage happened at Ivar’s Restaurant next door to the former Mukilteo ferry terminal.

Another similar King Tide event occurred on Dec. 17, 2012. Several places throughout the Puget Sound coastal region suffered high water and wave action damage, including water and logs into homes – not a desired holiday gift under the tree.

In the next few months, there will be several King Tide periods noted on forecast tide charts. For Seattle, tidal overflow coastal flooding usually starts at around 13.5 feet. Here are the upcoming King Tide periods of at least 12.5 feet:

  • November 28 through 30
  • December 14 through 20
  • January 11 through 18
  • February 10 through 14

The highest predicted tide of the winter season for Seattle will be on Jan. 15 at 13.1 feet. Jan. 14 and 16 as well as Feb. 12 and 13 will also be close at 13.0 feet.

For Everett, greater than 12-foot tides include:

  • Nov. 27 through 30
  • Dec. 12 through 19
  • Dec. 26 through 30
  • Jan. 10 through 17
  • Feb. 8 through 14
  • The highest predicted tide of the season for Everett will be on Jan. 12 and 13 at 12.9 feet.

King Tide events combined with stormy, windy weather will likely occur in the future. Shoreline property owners can take action now to help avoid damage such as reinforcing seawalls and other protective structures. Stay informed ahead of time for potential North Sound coastal flooding by monitoring here, your local NOAA Weather Radio station or local media including KIRO 97.3 FM.

Follow Ted Buehner, the KIRO FM news meteorologist, on Twitter 

MyNorthwest Weather

seattle weather...

Ted Buehner

Sub-80 temperatures finally arrive amid region’s driest time of the year

Spotty sprinkles coming from clouds above 10,000 feet held temperatures down in the 70s Sunday, bringing an end to the new record of 17 straight days.

3 hours ago

Image: The sun sets over the University District in Seattle. (File photo: Lindsey Wasson, AP)...

Ted Buehner

Friday sets new record for consecutive 80-degree days in Western Washington

A record-breaking streak of 80 degrees or better in Seattle and much of the Western Washington interior is expected to reach 16 days Friday.

3 days ago

seattle july...

Ted Buehner

Seattle Forecast: Region suffering through first rainless July since 2021

July is usually the warmest and driest month of the year for Seattle, and its holding to that norm with above-average temperatures and no rainfall thus far.

7 days ago

Photo: A makeshift fire truck puts water on a wildfire, which is part of the Okanogan Complex. Wash...

Ted Buehner

Buehner: Fire season kicked into high gear by heat wave

At the risk of voicing the obvious, Washington fire season is here! The recent heat wave essentially kicked it into high gear.

10 days ago

Photo: A paddle boarder is pictured at Alki Beach as excessive heat warnings remain in effect....

Bill Kaczaraba

As temperatures ease, no rain in sight for the next 10-14 days

Summer is beginning to look more "normal" in the Pacific Northwest as the heat wave eases with temperatures in the 80s in most places.

12 days ago

Image: The sun sets over Mountlake Terrace and Edmonds on a warm evening on Wednesday, June 5, 2024...

Steve Coogan and Frank Sumrall

Cliff Mass: ‘No doubt’ PNW is in a heat wave, but the end is near

Cliff Mass, a professor at the University of Washington (UW), discussed high pressure areas and the strength of the sun on KTTH.

14 days ago

King Tide season is back, here’s how to prepare