How you can help ‘Capture the King Tide’ this weekend

Look out for tidal flooding along the coast this holiday weekend due to what’s known as a king tide.

Correspondent Michael Hill spoke with Lisa Auermuller, assistant manager of the Rutgers-administered Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve, about the the king tides, which are higher-than-normal high tides that occur twice a year.

According to Auermuller, king tides occur during a new moon phase when the moon is closer to the sun and the Earth in its elliptical orbit, causing the gravitational pull of the moon to be stronger. During a king tide, she says that tides can be a foot higher than the highest high tide.

As a way to document these higher-than-normal tides, the Jacques Cousteau Reserve has launched a citizen science project called “Capture the King Tide” to encourage people to snap pictures of the king tide event and upload them to a Facebook page.

By having visitors and residents around the state snapping photos of the king tide event and flooding in coastal areas, researchers can find the trouble spots of flooding in the state.

Today’s king tide, while higher than the average high tide, is a look into the future, Auermuller explains. Scientists say the abnormal amount of water seen in current king tide events will eventually become the new normal due to sea level rise. However, unlike a tide that comes and goes, the higher level of water will be permanent, covering things like walkways, evacuation routes, backyards and marshes.

“We use this event now, which is a tide event, which isn’t permanent, to educate folks about what they can expect in the future when that amount of sea level rise is reached,” she said.