King tides likely the wave of the future

Tis the season in South Florida — for the dreaded king tides.

They’re about as common as fall foliage but they’re not the stuff of colorful, glossy marketing campaigns.

Expected this year from Nov. 3 to 9 and Dec. 2-7, king tides turn lawns into wading pools, sending water surging over seawalls, up through storm sewers and drown streets and driveways mostly located in low-lying coastal neighborhoods.

This year flooding may also occur Nov. 18-19 during the new and full moon. Days in September and October saw the season’s first king tides, which occur naturally worldwide from the gravitational pull of the sun and moon and their interactions with Earth, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Fort Lauderdale, with its vast canal system and hollow, porous aquifer is especially vulnerable to sea level rise, said a statement released by the city.

Certain neighborhoods are also suffering from an aging sewer system with pipes corroding from salty seawater invasion. Ongoing stormwater projects are expected to take place in the most at-risk neighborhoods throughout the next five years.

Typically, king tides occur in spring and fall, the latter being more intense with tides rising up to 1 foot higher than usual. They’re also dubbed “sunny day flooding” because tides — not rain — drive intense flooding.

Climate change is making the situation `dire since water expands as it warms. Scientists warm that the flooding seen in South Florida neighborhoods is the wave of the future, even miles away from the coastline.

“Over time, sea level rise is raising the height of tidal systems,” said a statement by the Environmental Protection Agency. “Average daily water levels are rising along with the oceans. As a result, high tides are reaching higher and extending further inland than in the past.

“King tides preview how sea level rise will affect coastal places. As time goes by, the water level reached now during a king tide will be the water level reached at high tide on an average day.”

For now, the City of Fort Lauderdale recommends the following:

• Do not drive through flooded areas. Turn around and find an alternate safe route to minimize damage to your vehicle and surrounding property.
• If you must drive through tidal flood water, rinse the undercarriage of your vehicle to remove any salt water and minimize corrosive damage.
• If you experience flooding on your street, make sure storm drains are not blocked and remove waste collection carts as quickly as possible after they are emptied, or wait until your next scheduled collection day to put them out.
• If you live on a street where the city has installed a tidal valve, ponding may occur if it rains during high tide. Be assured that your tidal valve is working and the ponding will subside as the tide goes out and allows the valve to open and release the rainwater.
• If you encounter flood water, rinse off to remove the saltwater and minimize exposure to pollutants in the ponded water.

How are rising tides affecting your neighborhood, livelihood and home? Please send comments to and type sea level rise in the subject line.