King tides rolling in — and they're set to be a record breaker - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

King tides rolling in — and they're set to be a record breaker

(Image: alohacheryl/UH Sea Grant) (Image: alohacheryl/UH Sea Grant)
(Image: UH Sea Grant King Tides Project) (Image: UH Sea Grant King Tides Project)
(Image: Hawaii News Now) (Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now) (Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: via UH Sea Grant) (Image: via UH Sea Grant)
WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) -

The king tides washing into coastlines Friday afternoon are among the highest in Hawaii since record-keeping started 112 years ago, preliminary data shows.

By about 3 p.m., an hour before the highest tides are expected, streets in flood-prone Mapunapuna were already underwater. And in Waikiki, water levels were also visibly higher than normal.

A gauge at Honolulu Harbor put the high tide at 3.186 about 4 p.m. During last month's king tide, the high mark at the harbor was 3.08. 

The impact of this month's high tides are expected to be slightly less severe, however, because they won't be accompanied by a south swell (which was the case in May).

"Instead of about a foot above normal, sea level anomalies will be down closer to about a half a foot, and the tides this month are just a little bigger than May," said Matthew Widlanski, researcher at the University of Hawaii Sea Level Center.

Still, officials say coastal communities should be prepared for flooding and erosion through Saturday.

They're also reiterating their calls to see long-term strategies to tackle rising tides, saying that king tides (the highest tides of the year) provide a glimpse of what to expect in the future.

"That type of event we expect to become more frequent in the future with sea level rise and the impacts gradually becoming potentially more severe," Widlanski said. "We also have the gradual global sea level rise, melting land ice, and warming oceans that create the conditions for these type of recurring events to become more and more frequent over time."


READ MORE: King tides last month confirmed as highest in recorded history
Citizen scientists central to 'groundtruthing' king tide flooding in Hawaii


As they did last month, the UH Sea Grant program is calling on citizen scientists to submit their photos of June's king tides.

Hundreds snapped photos last month, and submitted them to the Sea Grant program's website.

"We had 900 photographs submitted in the month of May alone and we had 200 new people sign up to participate in the project," said Katy Hintzen, coastal resilience specialist for the UH Sea Grant program. "That is going to be really great for us to understand the local community level impacts of these high water level events"

During last month's king tides, water swallowed up whole sections of Waikiki's famous shoreline, but no major damage was reported.

The new king tide episode comes as Hawaii is seeing more of the high tide events, spurring concern about tourism, Hawaii's no. 1 economic engine.

Mark Merrifield, of the UH Sea Level Center, has said that before 1960, Hawaii never saw a tide that reached above 3 feet.

In the last few decades, though, the state has seen 20 of them. 

And June isn't expected to be the last of 2017's king tides.

Officials say the highest king tides to date are actually expected to roll in next month. 

The high tides hitting during the height of hurricane season have Hawaii Emergency Management Agency officials concerned.

"When a hurricane comes in, it brings in storm surge. so if this all comes together at the same time, we're going to have some problems," said Vern Miyagi, agency administrator.

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