King Tides Hit Newport Beach: Before & After

Yesterday, today and tomorrow, what are known as “king tides” are occurring. These are exceptionally high tide caused by how both the sun and the moon pull on the water. In my city of Newport Beach, they’ve pushed the harbor to extremes. Today, we had flooding in a few places. It would have been far worse if there had been rain or a strong storm. As it was, the tides put area flood defenses right on the tipping point.

By the way, king tides are not caused by global warming. However, as sea levels rise, the tides rise with them, so these extreme periods now give a hint at what likely will become all-to-common in the future.

Below, some before-and-after shots from around my city, from just after the high and low tides, which were a bit lower than the ones that hit today.

Newport Island Bridge

Newport Blvd Bridge (both sides)


Lido Isle Bridge

Balboa Coves & Newport Island

From Today (Dec. 13)

I probably won’t get out to do the “after” shots of these. Today’s tide was higher by about a half-foot than yesterdays. These are some high water examples. First is near Lake Street, which, if the waters had gotten higher, would have turned into its namesake:

Next is the Newport Island Bridge. If I’d been able to get out right at the high water mark (rather than about 40 minutes later), I’m pretty sure there would have been no gap at all:

This was water that came over a neighbor’s wall through the small gap where there are steps to the dock:

This is Short Street which was one of the hardest hit areas today. Nothing like the flooding people have seen with hurricanes like Sandy or Katrina, of course. Nothing at all like that. But if we’d had rain, there’s a chance the water would have gone over many sea walls in the area:

Another big reason there’s so little flooding is because of the hard-working city crews. They shut the storm drains before a bit event like this, so water doesn’t back up. Of course, it’s going to leak through in places, and you can get pools like this:

This is about 15 minutes later:

The water is gone because they can pump it back into the harbor faster than it’s flowing into the streets from various places. Crazy, but it works. Of course, with a rain, if the harbor was absolutely full, then there’s no where to pump the water back to.

And thanks, city crews! You can also see more king tide examples throughout California here.

Postscript: I’ve had requests for better copies of the photos. You’ll find them in my Flickr set here.


  1. says

    Yikes! Did you happen to swing by W. Oceanfront near the Newport Pier? I’m only there one week a month so I hope there was not any flooding there!

  2. Brett Woods says


    I think that mentioning global warming shows political slant and distorts the facts about this high tide. This tide was only a 7.1, which is not and has not been uncommon. This extra tide came from rain flowing to the ocean through the bay. We experienced a higher bay tide about five years ago. It too was during a time of rain. Rain has a large effect on the Newport Harbor tides. Iv’e watched the tides in Newport for over 25 years (not scientifically). I haven’t seen any indication that the average Newport ocean tides have changed at all.

  3. says

    Mentioning global warming isn’t a political slant. It’s a scientific one, because there is warming going on, and sea levels are rising.

    Even the city itself agrees. I’d suggest you read through this as to why new construction is being required to build higher foundations. It’s not politics. It’s because the city sees an actual threat that it needs to prepare for:

    I mentioned climate change in this post to explain that the tides this week were NOT caused by global warming. Right there in the second paragraph, me saying the high tides this week weren’t some global warming result as some might assume.

    They also were not caused by rain. They were caused by the unusual alignment of the sun and the moon that happens several times per year. On Thursday, on top of the already extreme high tide caused by that, we also had some additional rise caused by rain. By my measure, it may have added an extra two to four inches.

    When we’ve had high tides in Newport Beach before — higher ones than we had today — they’ve typically been coupled with the king tides effect that I’ve mentioned (sun and moon alignment) along with powerful storms that can add more water to the harbor as well as a storm surge that pushes even more in from the see.

    Climate change won’t impact the tides. The moon and the sun do that. But climate change is seen as increasing the sea levels. What that means is, as I explained at the end, is that if our sea levels increase by a foot or two, then we can expect that there will be more extreme events. That it won’t just be king tides that produce them, or king tides with a storm that do so, but that ordinary high tides might start posing threats.

    That seems years off: 10, 20, but like I also said, it’s a reality that the city itself is planning for.

  4. Brett Woods says

    Deny it or not, global warming is a political issue. I agree there are facts around it, but even making mention of it takes away from what is otherwise a great article and news update.

    If we want to get picky about this. You stated rain would have made this worse. Generally the rain did add to the level of water in the bay. More specifically, they would have made it much worse, if it was raining during the high tide. During extreme high tides, the city closes the drains on the peninsula, in order to prevent the water from backing up through the drains. If it were raining while these drains are closed, the rain water remains on the peninsula and that’s when we have the worst flooding.

    Are you indicating that the city’s opinion is fact? This from a city that voted in a 1500% tax increase on doc owners last Wed.?

  5. says

    Brett, global warming is a scientific fact. You can take a cruise through areas around the North Pole that only decades ago were frozen over, if you need to have first time proof for yourself.

    I mentioned it because, as I already said, there are people who will look at the king tides that happened and say, “Oh, that’s global warming.” And I was explaining that no, it’s not. That’s relevant in my opinion to point out, so that people who assume these were due to rising sea levels understand they’re not. In short, it’s kind of odd you’re being critical that I raised it.

    But as sea levels are rising, and appear likely to continue to rise, what’s a rare event that happens only a few times per year is almost certainly going to get more common in the future. And the city’s opinion is fact to the degree that if you want to do a new build, you’re going to have to raise the foundation of your property. Even a remodel may have that happen.

    You’re right, however, that the rain didn’t make the bay higher. I was incorrect on that. One of our local crews was out today to open the drains and said it had no real impact on the level because the drains are closed. It would have been a problem for us because the street flooding would have had no place to drain.

    CJ Land, I quote the LA Times quoting Newport Beach city officials who are notorious for being conservative. It wasn’t an LA Times “opinion” piece. It was a news story. You’re citing one single person writing for Fox News with an opinion piece.

  6. E-Rock Christopher says

    Well, I am feeling lucky! Just don’t have a need to spam! lol… That is just crazy that much water can come in from high tide!