It’s almost time for the new moon—the start of the monthly lunar cycle when the moon is most closely aligned with the sun—and that can bring unusually high tides. Last winter, many West Coast residents (or was it just me?) were acquainted for the first time with the term “king tide.” That’s a really, really high tide, influenced not only by the above-mentioned solunar alignment but also by stormy winter conditions.

Morro Rock Reflecting in a Lagoon.
The reason the term came into currency last winter. was that government agencies, like the California Coastal Commission and the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, got together with conservation groups, including some banded together as the California Coastkeeper Alliance, to publicize the occurrence of some extreme tides. The water would be high enough that it could be counted on to at least partially flood many low-lying areas—such as U.S. 101 between Oyster Point and Candlestick Park— and afford the public a close-up view of how the future will look if sea level rises, as predicted, under the influence of climate change. As it turned out last winter, stormy conditions during February’s tidal event created some dramatic scenes around the Bay Area.

Beyond publicizing the high water, the California King Tides Initiative wants to get citizens involved in recording the events—both to educate them as observers and to collect documentation for further study of sea-level rise.

“We want to encourage people to go out to the coast and start to visualize how sea-level rise could impact the California coast, both our ecosystems, our shoreline areas and our infrastructure that are very vulnerable to inundation and flooding,” says Sara Aminzadeh, acting executive director of California Coastkeeper.

See the King Tides Initiative site for advice on where and how to shoot the tide event and on how to share your pictures.

‘King Tides’ Are Back: Where to See (and Shoot) Them 22 December,2011Dan Brekke


Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke is a blogger, reporter and editor for KQED News, responsible for online breaking news coverage of topics ranging from California water issues to the Bay Area’s transportation challenges. In a newsroom career that began in Chicago in 1972, Dan has worked as a city and foreign/national editor for The San Francisco Examiner, editor at Wired News, deputy editor at Wired magazine, managing editor at TechTV as well as for several Web startups.

Since joining KQED in 2007, Dan has reported, edited and produced both radio and online features and breaking news pieces. He has shared in two Society of Professional Journalists Norcal Excellence in Journalism awards — for his 2012 reporting on a KQED Science series on water and power in California, and in 2014, for KQED’s comprehensive reporting on the south Napa earthquake.

In addition to his 44 years of on-the-job education, Dan is a lifelong student of history and is still pursuing an undergraduate degree.

Email Dan at:


Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor