It's that time of year again, when the high tides are extra high and the low tides are extra low around the Bay Area, and this weekend is when you'll see the water splashing higher than it usually does in many spots.
The King Tides have come around again, and with them you may see the Bay coming up to meet the top of the seawall at the Embarcadero in a few spots. The high waters can also cause some water inundation on certain low-lying roadways in the North Bay, and you'll see the waves coming in further and higher than they usually do on local beaches, too.
It's been discussed many times in recent years how these King Tides — a naturally occurring phenomenon based on the Earth's position relative to the sun and moon around the solstices — are a glimpse into our future with rising sea levels. A project to raise the Embarcadero seawall is just in its early stages, after a 2021 report from the SF Port Commission raised the alarm that the Embarcadero itself will need to be raised two to seven feet in order to address rising waters.
King Tides occur when the Earth is closest the moon (perigee) and closest to the sun (perihelion), both around the winter solstice and the summer solstice. The waters around SF can surge up to 7.2 feet, which is when you see small waves splashing onto the Embarcadero.
Back in July we had a round of King Tides that closed the northbound Highway 101 off-ramp to Stinson Beach in Sausalito, due to flooding, and there were other impacts as well.
As Bay Area News Group tells us, anyone who wants to go out hunting for crabs and anemones on the beach at one of the lowest low tides of the year can do that this afternoon (Thursday) starting around 4 p.m. On Friday at 2 p.m., there will be a guided walk at Natural Bridges State Beach to check out the tidepools at low tide, hosted by Santa Cruz State Parks.
You'll want to avoid the beaches at high tide, or at least keep your distance, but a walk along the Embarcadero could prove dramatic in a fun way. The highest tides this weekend will be on Friday around 9 a.m. and Saturday around 10 a.m.
The next round of King Tides will be January 21 and 22.
Below is a brief explainer from 2014, from the California King Tides Project.
Photo via Thankyouocean/YouTube