Eastern coastline experiences flooding from king tides, storms

by mcardinal

Lauren Moye, FISM News


Eastern coastal cities continue to experience major flooding as an Atlantic storm system moves up the coastline. The storm system combined with seasonal high tides has caused flooding in many of the inland tidal areas this weekend from NE Florida up to Virginia.

While many of the states have already experienced their peak tides this weekend, North Carolina’s Outer Banks and the Virginia Tidewater areas will witness the worst of the flooding this morning and tomorrow. This flooding will affect road systems and properties that do not normally see flooding.

The National Weather Advisory system for Wakefield, Virginia, tweeted an advisory this morning: “Tidal flooding is expected for coastal areas. Hampton Roads will experience minor flooding during high tide today, while the northern Outer Banks will see major flood during high tide today and tomorrow.”

“This flooding is being caused by one low-pressure system’s really bad timing,” meteorologist Jonathan Belles said during a Saturday weather.com broadcast. “Some of the highest tides of the year are occurring this weekend, and they would have occurred whether there was a storm or not.”

Belles referenced king tides, the natural weather phenomenon that occurs when the sun, earth, and moon align to create a surge in tidal patterns. A king tide is crowned by causing some of the highest high tide and lowest low tides that an area will experience in a year. Because tides are impacted by the gravitational pull of both the sun and the moon, this is a predictable occurrence.

Belles continued to explain, “Now, throw in a slow-moving storm system with persistent and strong winds off the Atlantic, and you get a several-foot-high storm surge. That storm surge combined with the tides in place and you get the widespread flooding that we’re seeing this weekend.”

The storm developed off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida. NE Florida received eight inches of rain over Friday and Saturday, elevating flood water into downtown areas of coastal cities. This flooding shut down streets and bridges, including Saint Augustine’s Bridge of Lions.

In South Carolina, flooding shut down parts of Charleston’s downtown area with the highest water level recorded in three years. Charleston has noted an uptick in surge flooding in recent decades. The City Council is currently developing plans for a 12-foot sea wall to combat this problem. The wall will cost around $1.1 billion to implement.

The tidal surge also temporarily shut down access to some islands. Pawleys Island South Carolina’s police department tweeted yesterday morning, “We are shutting down the causeways now due to excessive flooding. If you are on the island please stay home for a while. Please keep clear of the area. Creekside high tide is 10:15.”