King tides provide preview of sea level rise


Gray water, rippling with rainfall, lapped at the banked edge of the Coyote Point waterfront at the San Francisco Bay, covering the high-water mark – a line of white bricks – by at least a foot.

Nature gave a preview Nov. 24 of what's coming to San Mateo County with sea-level rise. King tides occur when the sun and moon align their gravitational forces when the ocean's tide is at its highest.

At a "King Tides and Coffee" presentation given at Coyote Point park in San Mateo, hosted by San Mateo County's sustainability office, a group of about 20 people, including county supervisor Dave Pine, witnessed just how high that water could get.

According to Hilary Papendick, a county climate resiliency specialist, several factors are contributing to current high water levels.

The king tides are one factor, she said, but another is the warmer water that El Nino conditions bring. Water expands when it is warmer, she said, which alone could cause a further 6 to 10 inch increase in water levels this winter. The latest measurements, she said, show that the water this winter is the warmest on record, surpassing 1998 El Nino temperatures. Ms. Papendick presented images from the 1998 El Nino season, showing streets rendered impassable due to flooding.

Ms. Papendick said that the best estimates predict a sea-level rise of 2 to 12 inches by 2030, 5 to 24 inches by 2050, and 17 to 66 inches by 2100 across California, according to a report by the National Research Council.

Across the county, she said, higher water means that communities built along ocean bluffs risk erosion, wetlands and estuaries risk saltwater encroachment, and bayfront and oceanfront businesses risk massive economic loss due to flooding.

To ascertain the extent of that risk, she and her colleagues are conducting a vulnerability assessment, a year-long study expected to be finished in June 2016 and that evaluates the county's assets at risk.

Climate resiliency assistant TJ Carter said people need to know that "San Mateo County is the most vulnerable county in California" to sea-level rise. According to a 2009 study by the Pacific Institute, that county-wide vulnerability equates to about $24 billion in assets at risk from sea-level rise.

After the vulnerability assessment is conducted, the county will take measures to prepare for and mitigate the impact of sea-level rise, Ms. Papendick said.

King tides can also be viewed Dec. 22, 23 and 24, and on Jan. 21 and 22.

Check to see when the high tide will peak.

Coastal locals are also invited to submit photos of the king tide peak to the California King Tides Project. Caution is advised.

Click here for more information.

What is community worth to you?
Support local journalism.


Like this comment
Posted by Tercy
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 1, 2015 at 6:19 pm

When will we believe the predictions and stop building so close to the bay? Do we want to be another New Orleans?
Let's smarten up and take the warnings to heart. In the last 50 years I have seen the destruction of parts of many cities due to water, and building at sea level.

Like this comment
Posted by Mr,Recycke
a resident of another community
on Dec 1, 2015 at 9:15 pm

Wow, Papendick is either deeply misinformed, or straight up lying about the how much thermal expansion El Nino can cause, This summer, on Aug 13, we had record water temps in Monterey of 69F. Was there 10 inches of thermal expansion? Was there any noticeable thermal expansion? No. Will a strong El Nino bring water warmer than we had this summer? No.

How much thermal expansion is there right now at the equator where El Nino is at its maximum? NASA estimates 1".

Like this comment
Posted by ?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 2, 2015 at 9:01 pm

2-12 inches is a margin of 6x, Does that make any sense. Is that the science we're relying on?

I believe in climate change but you won't win people over with extreme exagerations.

Like this comment
Posted by Oyster Point
a resident of another community
on Dec 4, 2015 at 10:58 pm

This article includes photos of the King Tide flooding at Oyster Point Marina Wed Nov 25 2015
Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Ronnie Ray
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 5, 2015 at 2:15 pm

Sea rise is real - those photos are just a harbinger.

And all that cap that's submerged - industrial waste, in the sumps, etc..

Who's going to clean it?

Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2015 at 7:18 pm

Photos of SSF Landfill last month under water. Is it possible the land is shifting/sinking and water rising at the same time?

Web Link

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Be the first to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

Vegan cafe to land in Mountain View this week
By Elena Kadvany | 7 comments | 3,687 views

The Best Time to Charge an EV
By Sherry Listgarten | 20 comments | 2,035 views

How Can We Fund Below Market Rate Housing for Low and Moderate Income Residents in the Region?
By Steve Levy | 27 comments | 1,627 views

College Match
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 0 comments | 668 views

Premarital and Couples: Valentine's Day: Annually or Daily?
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 470 views


The Almanac Readers' Choice ballot is here

It's time to decide what local business is worthy of the title "The Almanac Readers' Choice" — and you get to decide! Cast your ballot online. Voting ends May 27th. Stay tuned for the results in the July 17th issue of The Almanac.