Coastal areas at risk from 'king tides,' rising sea levels, summer swells

Coastal areas at risk from 'king tides," rising sea levels and summer swells
Published: May. 22, 2017 at 11:02 PM HST|Updated: May. 23, 2017 at 9:31 AM HST
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MAPUNAPUNA (HawaiiNewsNow) - Scientists are warning that rising sea levels and a big south swell could lead to coastal flooding later this week during unusually high tides.

"King tides" are higher than normal tides that occur in clusters during the summer and winter. The reason they're a problem now is that sea levels in this region have been going up.

"Before 1960, we never saw a tide that reached above three feet in Hawaii. Now we've seen 20 of them in the last couple of decades and we're going to see maybe three or four times this year, so that's all because the sea level is rising," said Mark Merrifield, director of the University of Hawaii Sea Level Center.

In Mapunapuna, where tidal flooding is a daily issue, businesses are bracing for problems. After 30 years in business, Rod Ho will be closing Aloha Radiator at the end of the month due to the rising rent and the constant struggle with flooding at his shop.

"I always have to track the tides. Let my customers know if there's high tide, I wouldn't recommend them coming in cause it'll ruin their cars," explained Ho. "Over the years, I'd say I lost about half of my business because of the tide."

Coastal communities like Waikiki also face erosion and possible flooding. Besides this Thursday and Friday, king tides are also expected around June 23 and July 21. Actual water levels will depend on wave heights during the high tides.

"At this stage, it's more of a kind of a nuisance event and so just making sure that things are maybe off the ground so electronics are out of the way it might affect where you park on that day, that sort of thing," said Merrifield.

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