A King-ish High Tide

Gap in seawall, foreground, allows salt water onto gravel path along Marina Boulevard opposite hotel
Long-standing gap in seawall along Virginia Street extension allows pocket of sea water onto dirt path
Schoolhouse Creek outfall, a 48″concrete culvert, is submerged and invisible. Glass beach, to its right, is gone.

The predicted King Tide at 11:29 this morning met expectations for an unusually high tide.  With a 10 mph northerly breeze helping it along, the waters breached the seawall at the southern end of Marina Boulevard and flooded a pocket on the edge of the Virginia Street extension, where the waves lapped within inches of the upper edges of the rock containment.  The Schoolhouse Creek outfall culvert was completely submerged and invisible.  The glass beach north of it, together with all the flats along the eastern shore, was gone.  NOAA, the federal body that keeps track of tides, rated this at 7.08 feet.  It was high. 

But today’s effort was not in the same league as the King Tide of December 14 last year, nor of December 12 in 2012, both of which I photographed here at the park. The 2016 event was a 7.16, and the 2012 event was a 7.25.  Those floods covered far larger tracts of earth both on the west and the south margins of the basin; see the photos.  

An hour and a half after the peak today, the northeasterly wind had livened into a gusty gale, generating whitecaps on the basin that sent up sprays of foam along the southwest border of the North Basin.  But by that time the tide level had subsided and the floodwaters receded. 

The moon will get another chance to pull its weight of water to record levels at 9:36 a.m. on New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31.  That’s predicted to be another 7.08.  Just before that, we’ll see a daylight negative low tide on the 29th at 3:07 pm (-0.07) and an even lower one the next day at 3:55 pm with a -0.71 predicted level.  Until then, all the high tides will be moderate and all the dramatic low tides will happen in the dark.   

It’s notable that neither the City of Berkeley, which manages Marina Boulevard, nor the East Bay Regional Park District, which has charge of the Virginia Street extension, bothered to patch the obvious low spots along the seawall where the tidewaters invaded in each past year.  It would have taken a worker with a front end loader less than an hour to plug the breaches with rocks and gravel. If they can’t or won’t repair these small local breaks, how will they respond to the general sea level rise all along this shoreline, expected in coming years?  


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