Flood-Prone South Florida Faces Potentially Devastating King Tides

by Lauren Boisvert

South Florida is bracing for intense King Tides and flooding through December, CNN reports. The flooding will affect Miami-Dade County and Monroe County, which includes Everglades National Park and the Florida Keys.

In Miami-Dade, officials are stating, “more severe flooding may result if King Tides coincide with bad weather conditions such as heavy rains, strong winds or big waves.” According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, “South Florida is seeing the sea level rise between 2 to 4 mm per year.” With hurricanes pummeling the United States, flooding could become more extreme.

Monroe County predicts flooding during Sept. 11-13, Sept. 17-20, Oct. 4-13, Oct. 21-23, Nov. 3-11, and Dec. 2-8. Miami-Dade predicts flooding during Sept. 9-11, Oct. 5-11, Oct. 20-21, Nov. 3-9, and Dec. 2-7.

What are King Tides?

According to the EPA, a King Tide is the “highest predicted high tide of the year at a coastal location. It is above the highest water level reached at high tide on an average day.” King Tides are normal occurrences a few times a year in areas along the coasts. The EPA reports that King Tides are predictable because “the orbits and alignment of the Earth, moon, and sun combine to produce the greatest tidal effects of the year.” Because the flooding caused by the tides is not always related to rainfall, it is also called “sunny-day flooding” or “nuisance flooding.”

The Effect of King Tides

When King Tides occur, they end up changing the overall water levels of coastal areas; according to the EPA, “high tides are reaching higher and extending further inland than in the past. King tides preview how sea-level rise will affect coastal places.” Eventually, the water level reached by the King Tide will become the new water level reached at high tide.

According to CNN meteorologist Haley Brink, “the southeastern coast and Gulf Coast saw five to 12 times as many high tide flooding days than they saw just 20 years ago.” CNN reports, “if one location only saw on average two high tide flooding days in 2000, they could now be experiencing 10 to 24 days of flooding.”

It is important to monitor King Tides because they predict future water levels. The rising waters affect infrastructure, housing development, and natural habitats.

When flooding occurs, it’s important to not drive through the area. It is also crucial not to walk through flooded areas; according to the official Miami Beach website, “six inches of fast-moving water can sweep you off your feet and less than a meter of water can float a car.” Additionally, floodwater may be contaminated with sewage or other pollution which can cause illness.