The highest tides of the winter are coming and if compounded by storms, vulnerable areas from Crescent City to San Diego could be devastated.

Capistrano Beach collapse
(Photo by Jeff Gritchen, The Orange County Register/SCNG)

This walkway along Capistrano Beach in Dana Point,above, could be a warning sign for all of Californias coastal regions. The structure was wiped out when a storm hit in early December, but the tides were several feet lower than they can be and the swells were about 6 feet.

Newport Beach
Newport Beach during king tide in 2016 (Photo courtesy of California King Tides Project)

Winter storm intensity[hhmc]

On Dec. 10, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a report stating there is an 80 percent chance of an El Niño event this winter. Such events are associated with wetter and more intense winter storms. However, NOAA does caution that its data are from September through November and the intensity of the El Niño will not be known for a while.

NOAA report

Not just the coast

(Photo courtesy of California King Tides Project)

High tide, above, during a “king tide” Jan. 22, 2016, near Martinez in Contra Costa County. The California Coastal Commission has a website that you can contribute photos to the California King Tides Project.

Tide charts[hhmc]

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Tides are caused by the gravitational pull of the moon and sun on our ocean.

How tides work

These are the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tide charts for the Santa Monica Pier. Search NOAA tides and currents to see other locations. Heights are in feet.

Sources: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Pro Tides, California King Tides Project,

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