Environment & Science

Wet weather, high tides put coastal Southern California on alert for flooding

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Wet weather and seasonal high tides have coastal Southern California on alert for flooding. Environmental groups are using the event to illustrate effects of climate change.

The term "king tides" refers to the highest ocean tides, influenced by the Earth's nearness to the sun, and the moon's nearness to Earth. Between king tides and the rain, local officials say water could wash over sea walls, inundate low-lying homes and damage roadways. Property owners along the south coast tend to expect this every January and February.

This year the California Coastkeeper Alliance is asking homeowners in Malibu to tourists at Treasure Island to take pictures of the high-tide event. Santa Monica Baykeeper says king tides can be a good illustration of what might happen when a warming climate creates sea level rise in the future.

High tides and climate change aren't exactly related. But they pose similar hazards to low-lying areas.

State leaders have begun to incorporate plans for coping with sea level rise into policy statements and laws. Studies predict that within 40 years, sea level along California's coast could measure up to a foot higher than it is now.