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King Tides – The Highest of the Tides + The King Tide Schedule

king-tides

The term “King tides” originated in Australia & Pacific nations referring to a gnarly high tide that occurs only a few times per year. ?  Now it’s used world wide but especially in SoFla (where our headquarters is based), where King Tides cause sunny day tidal flooding.

King Tide inforgraphic - New Moon Perigean Spring Tides

Simply put, the King Tide is the name given for the highest of all natural occurring spring tides. Scientifically, king tides are referred to as perigean spring tides and like all tides its movement is effected by the gravitational forces of the Sun, the Moon and the rotation of the Earth itself.

Lunar Cycles & When You Can Expect The King Tide

By following the lunar month, meaning the time between 2 new moons (about every 28 days), you are able to predict when the highest tides will occur, approximately every 14 days of a lunar month. This occurs because the gravitational pull of the Sun and the Moon are aligned during this period. These recurring high tide lunar cycles are called the spring tides. The cyclical spring tides are substantially different from the king tides as the spring tides occur roughly every 14 days, whereas the king tides occur only once or twice a year. Though these tides can be just as predictable.

king tides

How Lunar Cycle Impact Tidal Forces

While the lunar cycles have significant influence on the generation of tidal forces, solar cycles also have an effect, though not nearly as strong. Tides responding to the solar cycle are generally half as large as lunar tides. However, when the Earth, sun and moon align, the solar tide has a strengthening effect on the lunar cycle and, therefore the tides, creating extra-high high tides and incredibly low low tides. These cycles of alignment are the first piece in a two piece puzzle that creates a king tide.

The largest tidal ranges of the year, and the second piece of our puzzle, is when the moon, Earth and sun are aligned AND the moon is in the part of its orbit which takes it closest to the Earth. This happens twice a year, at perigee, when the moon is closest to Earth, and at perihelion, when the sun is closest to the Earth.

Surf & Science

Scientifically, king tides are referred to as perigean spring tides and like all tides its movement is effected by the gravitational forces of the Sun, the Moon and the rotation of the Earth itself. By following the lunar month, meaning the time between 2 new moons (about every 28 days), you are able to predict when the highest tides will occur, approximately every 14 days of a lunar month. This occurs because the gravitational pull of the Sun and the Moon are aligned during this period.

These recurring high tide lunar cycles are called the spring tides. The cyclical spring tides are substantially different from the king tides as the spring tides occur roughly every 14 days, whereas the king tides occur only once or twice a year. Though these tides can be just as predictable.

Put a different way, the king tides can appear twice a year under two specific but slightly different conditions:

  • Once at the new moon when the moon is closest to Earth in its orbit, the sun and moon are aligned and the moon is between the earth and the sun.
  • Once at the full moon when the moon is closest to Earth in its orbit, the sun and the moon are aligned and the Earth is between the sun and the moon.

king tide infographic - Full Moon Perigean Spring Tide

With this in mind the king tides are generally easy to predict by tracking lunar and solar cycles and looking for the 2 specific pieces of the puzzle.

  • May 26th , 2017 and December 4th , 2017

While king tides are naturally occurring and cyclical, they give scientists a unique glimpse into the future. As sea levels continue to rise along with global warming, scientists believe the king tides of today are the normal high tides 50 years from now.

king tides

What are the craziest tides you’ve experienced? Share with us in the comments.

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