Residents, businesses prepare for "King Tides"

December 12, 2012 6:15:09 PM PST
A phenomenon known as "King Tides" is swamping the Bay Area. The extreme high tides over the next few days are the highest of the year. And that can mean some trouble for beaches and low-lying areas along the water.

High tidewater flooding prompted the closure of the Highway 1 Stinson Beach exit off of northbound 101. And it was up to individual bicyclists to decide whether to risk the waterlogged Bay Trail. The bike path lived up to its name Wednesday, as it was more bay than trail.

Vera Sparre decided she couldn't make it to the Larkspur Ferry after all and would have to turn around, saying, "I knew there was flooding but I had no idea it was this bad."

Caltrans tried to direct people around the flooding, but nothing could be done for cars left all day at the Park and Ride under Highway 101.

Businesses along a narrow strip of land between the flood and the Bay became an island for a few hours. Though, they're less worried about flooding than lost customers.

"The trees are all in buckets, they're still a foot above water," said Christmas tree lot owner Sebastian Vossen. "I'm from Holland, I know a lot about water management." Vossen has looked at the highest tide prediction for Thursday morning and figures he's got an inch to spare, "It's gonna be okay. All the buckets will be an inch above the maximum the way I've been looking at it."

The "King Tides" happen once a month when the sun and moon's gravitational pulls are aligned. But Wednesday through the next few days will be the highest tides of the year because they coincide with big winter storms in the Gulf of Alaska.

Houseboat residents of Sausalito's Waldo Point Harbor thought they knew what was coming with the "King Tide."

"Usually when the tide gets high it comes to where we are here," houseboat resident Matthew Perry said. "When it's really high it's halfway across the road. Today, it was up into the other parking lot."

The houseboats are built for it. But the cars in the parking lots, not so much.

John Sibaila has lived here 14 years and remembers a tide high enough for a 15 boat kayak race across the parking lot. He says he knows to move his cars to higher ground, "The modern cars, the computer is under the driver seat. As the computer gets wet and the chip gets wet, the car is totaled."

Caltrans says it expects to be out here doing traffic management at least until Saturday.


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