King Tides, or unusually high tides are expected for the shores of the Cayman Islands in Mid-January and Mid-February, Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) officials say. And, while the tides are not normally considered cause for alarm, sea water could settle in low-lying areas.
King Tides occur at a few specific times during the year when the moon is closest to the Earth, and the Earth is closest to the sun. Depending on the location of the sun and moon relative to the Earth at the time, tides may rise just a few inches to a couple of feet above normal, according to the Department of Environment (DoE).
These tides are being documented all over the world to help visualize and understand the impacts of sea level rise (like flooding and erosion) in the coming decades, and the Department of Environment (DoE) is appealing to residents of the Cayman Islands to help with the documentation of local occurrences. Documentation could include photographs of familiar landmarks like jetties, roads, seawalls, shorelines, and beach infrastructure. Those landmarks can help show how high the water is.
“In recent years we are aware of increasing instances of seawater from King Tides washing into some low-lying local streets or groundwater backing up in storm drains,” said Wendy Williams, manager of DoE’s environmental management unit. “Unfortunately, we don’t currently have any annual, reliable observations of these occurrences. DoE staff members will document the high tide incidents they are aware of, but more eyes watching are always helpful.”
These tides are especially important to document in the winter when storm surge and high winds and waves are more frequent, creating even higher water levels. Through the King Tides information and photo initiative, residents can contribute to the study of sea level rise and the changing climate. Over time as the project continues, photos taken at the same locations year after year will help to show changing sea levels and other impacts.
“Having better annual records of these high tide events can help us to understand what a future sea level rise might look like, and thus aid in making preparations for such an event,” said Minister of Environment, the Hon. Dwayne Seymour. “I would encourage Cayman residents to participate and help us to document these events so we can learn from them.”
Anyone with photos of or information about King Tide events may send the information to the DoE email address, DoE@gov.ky or call DoE to report it at 949-8469.