To foreshadow more extreme high tides that could be the norm because of sea level rise in the future, several organizations hosted a “viewing party” for the especially high “king tide” Tuesday in Raymond. The event was held at Willapa Landing Park and hosted by the Washington Sea Grant (a research arm of the University of Washington), the Nature Conservancy, and Surfrider Foundation.
“King tides” is the unscientific name for the particularly high annual tides that happen when the moon, sun and earth are in alignment. This year, there were a few such tides in Western Washington between November and late January. For example, South Bend had six king tides between December and January, according to Sea Grant’s online schedule, while Olympia had nine.
At Tuesday’s event, recent projections from the Washington Coastal Resilience Project showed how much higher sea levels could rise for each city by 2060 or 2100, along with different scenarios they said were dependant on the reduction of harmful emissions they said would hasten sea level rise.
The Raymond event also showed maps of how bad flooding could be in the future for each area, and some maps that showed how land in some areas along the coast is actually rising and outpacing sea level rise, while in other areas the land is sinking.
The public was invited and around 15 people came out to the event, where staff provided information on sea level rise and tides. Some also strolled the shoreline looking at spots where the water rose so high it covered multiple boardwalks and pathways around the park.
Jackson Blalock, from Washington Sea Grant and the Nature Conservancy, said he thinks sea level rise could have some noticeable impacts on the local environments.
“I think you’re going to get a lot more nuisance flooding, and a lot of loss in habitat, particularly wetlands,” said Blalock. “That’s the stuff so low, it’s already tidal, and might not necessarily have room to move upwards. As sea levels rise, if people have hardened shores, and don’t give them room to breathe, that could affect things like salmon habitat.”
Others in attendance included Raymond Mayor Tony Nordin, who said he appreciated the information about potential future sea level rise in his area.
“I like that the projections are so far in the future,” said Nordin. “You talk about raising one foot of water in 30 years or something. That doesn’t sound like something the city can’t handle. But at the same time, I’m not going to underestimate what a foot of water could do.”