|Photo by David Barker, submitted to the King Tides program via MyCoast, on the morning of December 27th. Gig Harbor area
Well somehow I went a whole year without a post...not exactly sure what happened to be honest, except that I was very focused this year on a few projects that are now wrapping up. But an event that hit the Washington shoreline in the last week of December was more than enough to snap me out of it. The long and the short of it is that this event broke high water records at all but one of the tide gauges in the Puget Sound basin, some of them set 40 years ago. It was a doozy.
|Photo by Joan Schrammeck, submitted to the King Tides program via MyCoast, on the morning of December 27th. Camano Island.
Most of the record-breaking for this event happened in the Salish Sea, and really in the Puget Sound basin, even though it was no walk in the park for Pacific Coast shorelines either. The photo below, for example, was taken at the trailhead on Rialto Beach in Olympic National Park on December 26th. The crest of the berm here is at an elevation of roughly 18 feet above MLLW, and if the water pushes much higher under the influence of tides, surge or wave run-up it spills down into the parking lot just behind.
|Photo by Kim Sager-Fradkin, posted here with permission. Rialto Beach, Olympic National Park, December 26th.
But back to the Puget Sound basin, and here are the breakdowns of coastal water level records for the five tide gauges within the Puget Sound basin that set records during the event, specifically on the morning of December 27th, from north to south:
A few things of note here. First, the max water levels recorded in the table above are unverified as of yet, so may change. The Bremerton tide gauge is new, so not a surprise that a record was set there, but records were absolutely shattered in both Friday Harbor and Seattle, where tide gauges have been recording water level for 89 and 125 years, respectively. If the water levels are verified as they are reported in the table above, then Seattle's water level during this event was a full 7 inches above the record set just last year. To try to put that into context, that record was set last year on January 7th, 2022, by just barely exceeding the previous record (that one set in 1977) by less than half an inch.