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King Tides Pressure San Diego Coastal Cities

Waves wash over riprap along Cortez Avenue in Imperial Beach, Jan. 18, 2019.

Photo by Erik Anderson

Above: Waves wash over riprap along Cortez Avenue in Imperial Beach, Jan. 18, 2019.

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The San Diego coastline got another taste of high ocean levels Tuesday morning as the seasonal King tides gave a peek into California’s future.

Storm swell and the beginning of king tides pummeled Imperial Beach late last week, but the astronomical high tides are still affecting the region. The high tide Tuesday morning peaked at more than seven feet above normal sea levels in San Diego County.

King tides are created when the sun and moon line up and combine their gravitational pull on the earth’s oceans.

The Surfrider Foundation is measuring the financial impact that sea level rise poses along the California coastline.

“In 30 years, there are estimates that over 300,000 homes and commercial businesses worth $136 billion are going to be in harm's way of future sea-level rise. And that’s just 30 years from now,” said Stefanie Sekich-Quinn of the group Surfrider Foundation.

Sekich-Quinn help put together a LightHawk flight to see how higher ocean levels affect the San Diego coast.

Photo by Kris Arciaga

King tides swallow up beaches along the San Diego coastline on Jan. 22, 2019.

The passengers included Encinitas City Council Member Kellie Shay Hinze, who considers the people-friendly coast an important feature of her community.

“We have a pristine coastline. We have gorgeous ocean and mellow waves, and it's really a welcoming environment for recreation and just enjoyment. And so to me, top priority is that skinny stretch of beach where people love spending time,” Hinze said.

From the air she got a different perspective on the impact a king tide has on the coast.

“We had zero beaches. There was no sand. And the waves were actually pounding right up to the cliffs,” Hinze said.

Encinitas officials are already working on developing road maps for the future. Those strategies include the city’s climate action plan and efforts to restore sand dunes that could serve as buffers for the coast.

King tides are still pulling ocean levels up along the San Diego coastline.

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