The Puget Sound experienced the first king tides of the season in December, and the second is steadily approaching.
The king tides make Bainbridge Island a little smaller than usual for part of the day. The higher-than-usual tides occur twice in the winter and twice in the summer, causing water levels reach further up the shoreline than in any other cycle.
“It’s a natural phenomenon,” said Curt Hart, spokesman for the state’s Department of Ecology.
It’s an intriguing event that the department sees as an opportunity. The natural occurrence in December proved beneficial for state officials looking ahead to the future. The Department of Ecology asked Washingtonians to help document the phenomenon in order to better plan for the effects of climate change.
“Sea levels will continue to rise, and this will help us prepare to protect our homes and infrastructure against this new normal,” Hart said.
Washingtonians armed with cameras helped document areas where roads, train tracks, homes and more were overcome by the record high tides on Dec. 16-19 last year.
The next round of king tides are expected from Jan. 14-17 and Ecology is asking for the same help.
“It really is a teachable moment, when we got these higher-than-normal tides and they put water in places where it normally isn’t,” Hart said. “When you see sea levels encroaching where they haven’t been before, it’s a moment where we can think about what we can do to curb our carbon footprint.”
“You can think about what can you do in your own home, or your community, and what our state can do,” he added. “From a person’s front door to the capital in Olympia.”
According to the Department of Ecology’s online king tide map, the January 2013 king tides could be slightly higher than the December cycle.
The rising water caused a few disruptions on the island in December, and a few unique views.
In Winslow, the water nearly rose above stone bulkheads and began to advance on the boardwalks along Parfitt Way.
The boards of the Point White Pier on the south side of the island also met the rising tide.
The high waters also disrupted ferry service on the morning of Monday, Dec. 17. Walk-on commuters boarded via the car deck since the ferry floated too high to line up with the walkway that normally bridges the terminal and the boat.