King tide welcomes in new year - ‘highest I’ve seen’

A king tide has hit St George and the Sutherland Shire to welcome in the new year – leaving some areas experiencing light flooding.

Despite the king tide this morning, Sutherland Shire SES said there had been “no dramas” in terms of any evacuations or emergency call outs.

Sutherland Shire SES deputy local controller Sam Corby said they had been monitoring the region and there was only light flooding to report – which commonly comes with a king tide.

He added higher tides were recorded in early December when storms hit near Wollongong.

One Caringbah South resident, Darren Vardy, sent a video to the Leader showing his shed and yard partly submerged this morning.

“Having realised that our boat shed had flooded at the beginning of December, I thought to check the tide charts only to find that today was  going to be a super king high tide,” Mr Vardy, whose family were experiencing their first Port Hacking Christmas, said. 

“So, with thanks to a mate we set about reorganising the boat shed so the toys would not float away. 

“I dare not open the boat shed door today!”

Meanwhile, a business further up the road, The Boatshed at Woronora, spent the morning sweeping water out of their basement.

Owners Jon and Jane Bell said they experienced similar levels of flooding a couple of times each year – including at the start of December – and they were well prepared to deal with the rising water levels.

Further flooding was visible nearby at the Woronora Caravan Park and Prince Edward Park.

Sans Souci resident Guido Simionato visited the Dolls Point beach pool this morning and said it was the highest tide he had seen in the area.

“This is the highest I have seen it and I have lived here for five years.”

He said it certainly didn’t stop him from going for a dip though.

“The higher the better,” he enthused.

Coastal regions around Australia are experiencing the unusually high tides like the one at Dolls Point thanks to an unusual confluence of astronomical and meteorological factors.

The so-called wolf moon - the first full moon of the year - also happens to be a "super moon".

At some 50,000 kilometres closer than its furthest extent - our nearest partner in space is exacting an extra pull on the world's water.

The earth's own orbital eccentricity with the sun also means that at this time of year, we are about 5 million kilometres closer to the sun - a point known as the perihelion - than at our most distant in July.

"With this super moon and perihelion, what we're experiencing is the full might of the gravitational force" on the earth, said Alan Duffy, an astronomer and associate professor at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne.

"You can expect a larger range in the tides both high and low."

The impacts on tides, though, will vary greatly depending on local conditions, including the weather.

The Bureau of Meteorology said a king tide was nothing unusual and came around when the sun or moon was closer to the earth

“When aligned so their gravitational forces combine, producing an especially high tide,” the bureau posted online.

Tides reached 2.06m this morning at Cronulla and Dolls Point (around 10am). Similar high tides are expected tomorrow around 11am. 

High tides are forecast to drop well below 2m by the end of the week in both areas.

- with Peter Hannam


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