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With King Tide, Prepare for a Nightmarishly Wet Weekend Across South Florida

A king tide is no excuse not to pay for parking in Miami Beach.
A king tide is no excuse not to pay for parking in Miami Beach.
Photo by Joe Raedle / Getty Images
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King tides happen during storms; king tides happen when it's warm. Moon proximity makes oceans swarm. King tides during fall are the norm.

Dr. Seuss-sounding jokes aside, the sunny-day flooding nightmare known as king tide is upon us once again. King tides are caused by the alignment of the sun and the moon and their proximity to Earth — the gravitational pull causes unusually high water levels.

Low-lying areas in South Florida, especially along the coast, can expect to see flooded streets beginning today. King tides will peak this weekend and are forecast until next Thursday. Brian McNoldy, a weather researcher at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science, tweeted that Sunday will see the highest tides of the year.

Flooding in Miami Beach, where cars often get stranded and businesses stack sandbags to keep the water at bay, will peak Saturday and Sunday. Tides there will reach 3.27 to 3.78 feet, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) projections show. Consider investing in a kayak if you need to get anywhere important.

According to NOAA, king tides provide a glimpse of future average water levels as sea levels continue to rise.

Yesterday the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a bleak special report about how the oceans will be affected by climate change. The report says global sea levels rose nearly six inches during the 20th Century and are now rising at twice that rate and accelerating.

The report says sea-level rise will increase the frequency of "extreme sea-level events," such as those during high tides and storms. Flood risks, ocean temperatures, tropical cyclone winds, rainfall, and storm surge are only expected to increase, threatening coastal areas and potentially wiping out island nations. The report urges countries to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit the potentially catastrophic scale of ocean changes.

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