California in for more unusually high ‘king tides’

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HUNTINGTON BEACH, CALIF. (AP) - The tide is high, and it’s holding on.

Some Californians were in for another day of ankle-deep seawater in low-lying coastal communities Friday as unusually high “king tides” pulled the Pacific farther ashore than normal.

The tides, the result of an occasional astronomical alignment, caused some damage Thursday but proved mostly just a nuisance.

Water flooded Pacific Coast Highway and side streets in Sunset Beach, a sliver of Huntington Beach between the ocean and a yacht harbor. Down the Southern California coast, Newport Bay was brimming, while just north of San Francisco the tide swamped a commuter parking lot in Marin City and seeped into dozens of cars.

Bruce DuAmarell, an 18-year Sunset Beach resident, said he got a call at work from an alarmed neighbor and came home.

“My garage had flooded. There were four to five inches in my garage,” he said, as he took a break from sweeping water onto the street. “It came up over the seawall and literally filled up the harbor.”

DuAmarell said he lost a vacuum cleaner and some Christmas presents for his children, but otherwise was unscathed.

Occurring several times a year, king tides happen when the Earth, moon and sun align in a way that increases gravitational pull on the Earth’s oceans, raising water levels several feet above normal high tides. The non-scientific term also refers to extremely low tides.

Residents of Sunset Beach expect flooding, but that didn’t keep 13-year resident Fred Grether out of trouble.

He tried to drive his 2004 Porsche to a car wash to rinse off the salt water after the flooding reached the rims and undercarriage. But driving to the car wash did more damage than staying put, he said as a tow truck prepared to haul his car to the shop.

“I didn’t realize how deep it was at the intersection and as soon as I got to the intersection, I heard this frizzling noise and my car alarm started going off and I realized that I had burned out the electrical system on my car,” he said.

“Now I’m off to my local mechanic today about me doing something very, very stupid,” said Grether, who’s seen flooding three times.

The tide at Marin City reached 7 feet, slightly higher than during last December’s king tides, which prompted the California Highway Patrol to temporarily close a local highway connector ramp due to roadway flooding midmorning.

The damage could have been much worse if the weather had brought big waves along with the high tides, National Weather Service forecaster Larry Smith said.

“Right now it’s just a neat thing…. When we have the low tide this afternoon you will be see father out than you normally would,” Smith said. “It kind of does give you a glimpse of what the future might be with the sea level rise.”

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