King Tide

Within the past month, king tides have been making an appearance in Boston.

As noted in a article, a king tide is the highest tide of the year, and occurs when the Earth, sun, and moon are as close to each other as possible. These tide can tide over two feet higher than average.

The higher than average water made its way to the granite clad walkway of Long Wharf, as well as Mottissey Boulevard. Matt Doody, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, stated that at its peak, the tide in November reached 12.5 feet. The tides in October were between 12.2 and 12.3 feet.

For most, these events were more entertainment than anything.

Here’s some local coverage and social media posts about the tides:



Although this may be “cool,” the problem here is that these king tides are a realistic picture of what will happen to Boston and other coastal cities as the tides rise due to climate change and the melting of glaciers/ ice sheets.

Many thought this was a novelty, whereas it’s actually a reality.

I’ve reported on this issue before:

As reported by the U.S. Geological Survey and City-Data, the highest point of elevation in the city is 330 feet above sea level and averaging roughly 20 feet above with 30 percent of the city only eight feet above sea level. That being, roughly 1,121 acres of the Boston known today was created on marshland and filled between 1820 to 1890, as stated by iBoston, a historical architecture and landscape website.

Current predictions show that sea level is expected to rise two to six feet by 2100, as said by the 2012 National Climate Assessment by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, which means smaller storm will garner more destructive tidal power.

That means that these king tides are only three feet away from the five foot mark. If you need help visualizing this, all go the colored in areas are in the five feet sea level rise inundation zone.


This next map shows if there’s two more feet of sea level rise:

The first map of Boston shows the city with five and a half feet of sea level rise and finally with seven feet of sea level rise. The shaded areas are meant to indicate the general areas that will be flooded as a result. This drastic progression is expected within the next 100 years.

Keep this in mind the next time you made in these coastal phenomenons. This water will eventually be at your doorstep.

Feature photo by Tony Hisgett (cc). Maps by Alexandra Malloy.

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