From my vantage point this morning at the edge of San Francisco Bay at China Camp State Park in San Rafael, today’s king tide wasn’t all that dramatic. There was no flooded road, as I had been told there might be, and there was so little wind that the water level just silently crept higher, about a foot higher than usual, with zero fanfare.
Wednesday's king tide along the Embarcadero in San Francisco (Photo: Noah Knowles)
But I snapped photos anyway, for the Bay Area King Tide Photo Initiative, a project aimed at documenting these extreme high tides in order to identify local areas vulnerable to sea level rise.
Reportedly, things at San Francisco’s Embarcadero, however, were a little more dramatic. USGS scientist Noah Knowles was there to take pictures of yesterday’s king tide.
“There was already water splashing over the sides [of the sea wall] yesterday,” he said. “This was of course on a very calm day, and clearly there was no storm surge, which could have added another half-meter and had the water up on the streets.”
That’s the thing about sea level rise. The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) advises people to plan for 11-18 inches of sea level rise by mid-century. That by itself might not cause huge amounts of damage on a normal day, just as today’s extra-high tide didn’t flood the road in China Camp State Park. What it will do, however, is raise the baseline for what a high tide is, making storm surges more apt to cause destructive flooding.
Just before the king tide at China Camp State Park in San Rafael, CA (Photo: Gretchen Weber)
Knowles said that it’s important to raise awareness about what the potential effects of sea level rise could mean for the Bay Area.
“I think it doesn’t always hit home how low-lying so many area around the Bay already are,” said Knowles.
For photos of the king tides around the Bay Area, visit the Bay Area King Tide Photo Initiative on Flickr, or wait for the next one on February 18th and snap your own.