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Scientists warn of coastal flooding this weekend as king tide rolls

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    A woman walked close to the bushes at Waialae Beach in Kahala during high tide Wednesday afternoon. The National Weather Service posted a statement Wednesday for expected coastal flooding due to record-level spring “king” tides.


    A motorist, left, drove along the sidewalk to avoid flooding on Ahua Street in Mapunapuna on Wednesday.

A king tide appeared to reign yesterday along sections of Oahu’s south shore.

Waialae resident Taylor White, 19, and three visiting friends from Washington and Colorado went to three south-shore beaches Wednesday in search of a dry, sandy spot.

“There was no place to put the towels,” said White, who finally found some high and dry sand at Waianae Beach Park in Kahala.

The four friends first went to the Cromwell’s swim spot at Diamond Head, where the water was “pretty rough,” she said. They then drove to the Ewa end of Kahala Beach, where “the tide was up to the wall. Usually you can walk by the houses. Usually there’s some dry beach. There were people sitting on the stairs.”

University of Hawaii scientists say the highest water levels of the summer will coincide with the peak astronomic tides of the year, known as “king tides,” in the days around this Friday and again around June 23 and July 21. King tides occur during the months surrounding the summer and winter solstices.

When king tides converge with summer swells and high sea levels, coastal areas could be in danger of flooding, erosion and over-topping of berms, scientists at the UH Sea Level Center say.

A double threat is expected on Friday when a large south swell is expected on the same day as one of three days when king tides will peak.

The National Weather Service posted a special statement Wednesday to expect coastal flooding due to record-l­evel king tides.

A daily high tide will peak at 5:07 p.m. Friday and 5:55 p.m. Saturday in Honolulu. Neighbor islands will have similar times.

Swimmer Mason Graham, 24, a regular at Kahala Beach near Hunakai Street said the sea level was “definitely higher than usual.”

During high tide Wednesday afternoon, the water came right up to the beach wall. The water is usually 15 feet farther out, he said.

“It makes the swimming a little better,” he said. “Usually the water is only 3 feet deep. Now it’s 6 to 7 feet deep.”

One beachgoer from McCully said he and his companion were searching for a place to sit on the beach in Kahala, but they left after failing to find a spot. He said he will volunteer to be a citizen scientist and take photos of king tides for the Sea Grant Program.

Makani Christensen, 37, who majored in oceanography and runs a small fishing and boat tour company, said, “What’s messed up is the tide charts.”

Pulling out his cellphone, he pointed to the tide charts and showed how the actual high tide for Wednesday was seven-tenths of a foot higher than the prediction, and actual heights are sometimes more than a foot higher.

“King tides are normal,” he said. “The currents, wind, earthquakes, waves are all factors in the high tides.”

Sea-level forecasts called for flooding in low-lying Mapunapuna Wednesday and today.

Edward, the associate manager at Extra Space Storage in Mapunapuna, who only provided his first name, said, “I see the flooding every single day. This is Lake Ahua.”

The business, on Ahua Street, is built above grade, unlike the previous auto parts business that used to get flooded out.

“We’re like a castle,” he said. “I tell new customers, ‘It’s not a busted water main. It’s tidal water.’”

Correction: An earlier version of the story misidentified Waialae Beach Park in Kahala as Kahala Beach Park.
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