Grab a camera and help state track ‘king tides’

CAMANO ISLAND — Higher-than-normal tides brought people out to beaches in Snohomish and Island counties this week to watch the waves lap at seawalls and toss the driftwood.

Another winter high tide is expected this morning and officials at the state Department of Ecology encourage people to take along their cameras if they’re headed to the beach.

The Salish Sea sees its highest tides, often called king tides, during the winter when the gravitational pull of the sun and the moon are in synch. During king tides, scientists can see how rising sea levels, caused by changes in the climate, could affect the state’s coastline. Ecology officials hope to document sea levels with the help of photographers around the state.

“No matter if you think that climate change is natural or it’s caused by humans, the water is rising,” said volunteer photographer Suzi Wong Swint. “This has implications for our public infrastructure. Helping to document the high tides is good planning.”

Higher water levels could make river flooding more intense, shift beaches inland, increase erosion, endanger homes, roads and utilities, and threaten underground fresh water supplies located near salt water, Ecology spokesman Curt Hart said.

Wong Swint, who lives in Conway and spends a lot of time on Camano Island, works as an outreach and education specialist with the Snohomish County Public Works Department.

She became involved in the state’s king tides photo project last year when the state sent an email to her office looking for participation.

She also plans to photograph beaches in Skagit, Island and Snohomish counties during the next run of king tides in mid-January.

After her trips to the beach, Wong Swint uploads her pictures onto the Washington King Tide Initiative Flickr Group site online.

“I would encourage families to take this on as a project,” Wong Swint said. “It’s fun and educational.”

As a volunteer at Cama Beach State Park and a Cama Beach Foundation board member, Wong Swint is concerned about how high tides eventually could harm Cama Beach and long-standing beach neighborhoods on the island, she said.

One of those island neighborhoods, Maple Grove, is where Wong Swint photographed the tide Wednesday morning.

“The wind wasn’t blowing, so it wasn’t as dramatic as it can be at other times,” she said. “But it was a good place to document the tide because you can gauge it against the sea wall there. You want photos with fixed structures in them.”

In Everett, Glenn Coil took photos this week at Howarth Park and other places along the waterfront.

“I’ve enjoyed tracking weather and tidal extremes for a few years, so the request from the state for photos during high tides fit right into what I like to do,” Coil said. “It’s great that our newer technology helps get the word out and makes it easy to gather the documentation. I think this project should really help the state build on its knowledge.”

That’s the idea, Hart said. This is the third year the state has asked for pictures, and the photo collection is growing.

The king tides photo project began in Australia about three years ago. On the West Coast of North America, people in California, Oregon and British Columbia also are collecting photos of high winter tides, he said.

Sean Edwards works in surface water management for the county public works department. On Monday he took photos north of Stanwood to document the effect of the high tides on county Dike and Drainage Improvement District No. 7. The district has few people in it to help fund improvements, so Edwards is preparing to apply for money through a flood reduction grant program for the district, he said.

He also photographed the area between Stanwood and Camano Island where residents are concerned about saltwater encroachment into fresh water aquifers.

For Wong Swint, the king tide photo project is now part of her annual winter routine.

“I think of all those cabins and houses in low-lying areas,” she said.

“Someday it won’t be just sea spray on the windows. We’ll be seeing those high tides lapping at the doorsteps.”

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.

Where to go

To learn more about the state Department of Ecology’s request for high tide photos, go to http://tinyurl.com/wahightide. There you can find a tide map and schedule and learn how to post photos on the Washington Tides Photo Initiative Flickr site, tinyurl.com/KingTidePix.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Kim Skarda points at her home on a map on Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Concrete, Washington. A community called Sauk River Estates has a very steep slope above it. There is a DNR-approved timber sale that boarders the estate properties, yet they were not consulted about the sale before approval. The community has already appealed the sale and has hired their own geologist to conduct a slope stability report at the site. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Beneath steep slope, Concrete neighbors fear landslides from logging above

Nielsen Brothers plans to cut 54 acres of timber directly behind the community of 83 homes. Locals said they were never consulted.

Law enforcement respond to a person hit by a train near the Port of Everett Mount Baker Terminal on Thursday, June 27, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
2 killed in waterfront train crashes were near Mukilteo ‘quiet zone’

In June, two people were hit by trains on separate days near Mukilteo Boulevard. “These situations are incredibly tragic,” Everett’s mayor said.

Rob Plotnikoff takes a measurement as a part of the county's State of Our Waters survey at Tambark Creek in Bothell, Washington on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish County stream team bushwhacks a path to healthier waterways

This summer, the crew of three will survey 40 sites for the State of Our Waters program. It’s science in locals’ backyards.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
4th suspect arrested after Mountlake Terrace home robbery

Police arrested Taievion Rogers, 19, on Tuesday. Prosecutors charged his three alleged accomplices in April.

A 10 acre parcel off of Highway 99, between 240th and 242nd Street Southwest that the city of Edmonds is currently in the process of acquiring on Monday, July 10, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds ditches $37M Landmark public park project off Highway 99

The previous mayor envisioned parks and more in south Edmonds, in a historically neglected area. The new administration is battling budget woes.

Edmonds school official sworn in as Mount Vernon supe

Victor Vergara took his oath of office last week. He was assistant superintendent of equity and student success in Edmonds.

Former president Donald Trump is seen with a bloody ear as he is assisted off the stage during a campaign rally in Butler, Pa., on Saturday. MUST CREDIT: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post
Pops, screams and then blood: On the scene at the Trump rally shooting

Isaac Arnsdorf, Jabin Botsford | The Washington Post BUTLER, Pa. - The… Continue reading

Biden, Democrats, Republicans denounce shooting at Trump rally

Reaction pours in from government leaders

President Joe Biden delivers remarks in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, July 14, 2024.  Biden said he had demanded a national security review of what happened at Donald Trump’s rally and promised to share the results with the American people. (Yuri Gripas/The New York Times)
Biden: ‘We must unite as one nation’

FBI officials said they had no indication that the 20-year-old gunman was part of a larger plot

x
Man charged with hate crime in knife attack at Ezell’s in Edmonds

The suspect, 47, waved a knife at two workers while yelling about getting rid of “the Hispanics,” charging papers say.

Firefighters and EMTs with Sky Valley Fire tour Eagle Falls while on an observational trip on Wednesday, July 10, 2024, near Index, Washington. (Jordan Hansen / The Herald)
Beautiful but deadly: Drownings common at Eagle Falls, other local waters

Locals and firefighters are sounding the alarm as Eagle Falls and the Granite Falls Fish Ladder have claimed five lives this year.

A view of the south eastern area of the Lake Stevens that includes lakeshore and UGA that is a part of the city's annexation area on Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020 in Lake Stevens, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Lake Stevens fight to take over sewer district could end soon

The city and sewer district have been locked in a yearslong dispute. A judge could put an end to the stalemate this month.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.