Astronomical high tide will hit Hampton Roads on November 5 – will you help us catch the King Tide? – The Virginian-Pilot

In Hampton Roads, as in coastal communities around the world, the tides are rising. And. And. The sea level is rising. Tidal flooding increases. And while we breathe collective sighs of relief whenever monster storms like Harvey and Irma are unleashed elsewhere, most of us know deep down that it’s only a matter of time before we take a hit. direct.

Our risk from the water around us will continue to grow.

Yet there is still so much we don’t know about the tides that bind us.

The Virginian-Pilot and Daily Press media partners WHRO Public Media and WVEC-TV are teaming up this fall to help improve our understanding of high tides. We invite you to join us.

This is a one-of-a-kind citizen science crowdsourced project. In no other community — in the United States, at least — have so many media organizations teamed up to fight the tides. And never before have hundreds of people been asked to come out and measure a single tidal event. This is what we have in mind on the morning of Sunday, November 5 through Hampton Roads.

We call our project Catch the King. Join our Facebook group.

It will be built around the documentation of what is called an astronomical high tide. Essentially, it’s the highest predicted tide of the year if wind, rain, and everything else except the positions of the earth, sun, and moon — and their gravitational effects — are taken out of the equation. .

It is often called the royal tide.

You might see it as an opportunity to peek through a window into our not-too-distant future. Some scientists say future daily low tides could be higher than this year’s royal tide in half a century. That is if the sea level rise forecast at the upper end of the forecast range turns out to be accurate.

When this year’s royal tide arrives on November 5 on the heels of the full moon, we aim to be ready with an army of people fanning out across the region, with smartphones in hand and one mission: to measure where the tide is. ridges.

The peak will depend on where in the region you are walking on a water line that day: expected to arrive at Lynnhaven Inlet in Virginia Beach at 9:13 a.m., Sewells Point in Norfolk at 9:28 a.m., at the shipyard from Norfolk to Portsmouth at 9:34 a.m., Deep Creek to Chesapeake at around 9:50 a.m., the site of the former Kings Highway Bridge in Suffolk at 10:24 a.m., and the Kingsmill Resort near Williamsburg at 11:29 a.m., to name but a few.

The morning high tide on November 5 will almost certainly be different from what is now forecast – at Sewells Point, for example, 3.41 feet above what is known as “lower mean low water”. Certain meteorological variables, in particular the strength of the wind and in which direction, will determine whether the tide goes above or below the predicted level.s.

Still, according to some scientists, there’s a good chance there will be at least widespread minor flooding on Hampton Roads, as the tide is pushed higher than normal by the alignment of the earth, moon and sun. sun.

Our volunteer leaders, Tide Captains, will be responsible for making sure you know where you should be on November 5th. And they’ll be asked to make sure you’re aware of the phone app you’ll be using to take the measurements. . It was developed by Norfolk-based Concursive Corp. for the non-profit group Wetlands Watch.

Skip Stiles, executive director of Wetlands Watch, said Hampton Roads is full of keen tide watchers, but much of their knowledge has not been applied to science. The app is intended to help fill the void with a GPS-based system that turns every anecdotal observation into a scientifically valid measurement.

“We harvest that indigenous knowledge, mass-supply the whole area,” Stiles said, “and then, neighborhood by neighborhood, we can build a complete map of where it’s flooded and better understand what storms are causing what kind of storms. flood.”

The data and photos collected through Catch the King will be publicly available for you to review and should be useful to many others, especially scientists at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and others trying to build models. to predict tidal flooding. Emergency planners across the region say the information will also help them better manage flood risk.

Derek Loftis, assistant researcher at VIMS, is the main scientific liaison for the project. His doctorate. his thesis focused on predicting street-level flooding in New York City during Hurricane Sandy, and he was involved in numerous flood forecasting initiatives in Hampton Roads.

Loftis said the forecasting models are driven by data points collected at various locations during past events: “The more points we have, the better”, to improve the accuracy of flood forecasts.

“That’s really our goal with this kind of project,” Loftis said. “The data that is collected with this event will be useful for potentially decades to come.”

If you volunteer this year and find the experience rewarding, you may be asked to represent yourself for tidal watch events next year and beyond.

Want to know more ? We’ve created an interactive presentation at with more information about the project, some science behind the tides, and an overview of the areas to be mapped.

Ready to volunteer? Join now at

Questions? Email us at [email protected]

Join our Facebook group!

And check back at for updates on this project.

Dave Mayfield, 757-446-2341, [email protected]

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