LIHUE — Water levels in November could be five inches higher than usual during the highest tides of the year, according to University of Hawaii experts.
That’s from scientists at the University of Hawaii Sea Grant Center for Coastal and Climate Science and Resilience at the University of Hawaii Sea Level Center, who have been monitoring water levels with the Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System.
“Present conditions indicate that water levels around the November king tide will be about five inches above what we typically experience during the highest tides of the year,” said Cindy Knapman, of UH Sea Grant in a statement to TGI.
Localized effects on beaches will depend largely on wave conditions, according to UH Sea Grant, and water levels on top of the upcoming December and January king tides are less certain.
King tides are part of nature’s cycle and occur every year, usually during the summer and winter months, with April and May king tides being traditionally the largest.
April’s king tide brought an increase above normal water levels of about nine inches throughout the state, and summer water levels peaked at more than 10 inches above anticipated levels.
Flooding and coastal erosion are among the problems associated with the rapid rise in water levels.
“Currently the king tides and flooding associated with the higher water level occur just a few times per year,” Knapman said. “It is estimated that sea-level rise will more than double the frequency of extreme water-level events in Hawaii within a few decades. The high tides we experienced this summer provided a snapshot of the future, when extreme-water-level events become commonplace.”
The next king tides are expected in this first full week of November — today and tomorrow to be exact, and UH Sea Grant is once again asking the public for help document the natural phenomenon through the Hawaii and Pacific Islands King Tides Project.
Community members and visitors alike can help UH Sea Grant by capturing photos of the shoreline during king tides events. Over the 2017 summer months, more than 2,400 photographs were submitted by citizen scientists.
“These photo records are an invaluable resource for researchers and decision-makers as they attempt to better understand and prepare our state for the impacts of sea-level rise,” Knapman said.
To view king tide photos submitted by citizen scientists and learn more about the project visit PacificIslandsKingTides.org.