Incoming: King tides to Puget Sound
The highest tides of the year are on their way.
“King tides” are expected in Puget Sound on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings (Nov. 28-30).
King tides come every November, December, and January, when the moon, sun, and Earth line up just right.
The gravitational pull of the sun on the sea is slightly greater during those months: Earth’s elliptical orbit brings our planet 3% closer to the sun in early January than it is in July.
On Tuesday, the king tide is forecast to swell past Dungeness Spit at 5:20 a.m., then round the corner at Port Townsend at 6:14 a.m., pass Seattle at 6:25 a.m., slosh into Olympia at 7:10 a.m., and reach Shelton and the far end of Puget Sound from the Pacific Ocean around 7:51 a.m., according to Washington Sea Grant.
The Olympia and Shelton areas get the highest tides on Puget Sound, just as the end of a bathtub gets the highest sloshing.
King tides can bring coastal flooding, especially if combined with winter storms.
The forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday calls for high atmospheric pressure, which tends to squish the tide down, similar to laying your head on a pillow.
This winter’s highest tides in Puget Sound are expected to arrive in January, shortly after Earth passes closest to the sun, a phenomenon known as perihelion.