No flooding with this king tide

As 17.1-foot tide arrives Sunday in Olympia, many gather to talk about climate change

rboone@theolympian.comJanuary 6, 2014 

About 60 people gathered at Percival Landing in Olympia early Sunday morning to witness a king tide, an extra-high tide that takes place a few times a year throughout Puget Sound and on the coast.

Sunday’s king tide, which peaked at 8:49 a.m. at 17.1 feet, did not result in any flooding, but past king tides have, including the one in December 2012. That king tide resulted in some minor flooding in the downtown area near Percival Landing.

Although Sunday’s king tide didn’t result in any flooding, it was still unmistakable to those out for a morning walk.

The tide was so high that the historic tug Sandman, moored at Percival Landing, was about level with Fourth Avenue.

Meanwhile, a mix of activists and public officials gathered at nearby Harbor House to hear and discuss the issue of climate change and the threat of sea-level rise.

One of the organizers, Mike Coday of Chehalis, who plans to move to Olympia soon, said he hopes to make the gathering an annual event, in part so that they can hold public officials accountable.

He expects there to be more flooding and that “king tides are going to be the norm.”

Coday also thinks the city of Olympia is moving too slowly on the issue.

But City Councilman Nathaniel Jones, one of several area public officials invited to the gathering, defended the city’s response to sea-level rise, saying the city has been engaged on the issue since the early 1990s.

He said the city has held several public meetings on sea-level rise and the subject also was taken into consideration as part of the city’s recent work on its Shoreline Master Program.

Jones said the city has been a leader on the issue. He also pointed out that Andy Haub, a planning and engineering manager for the city and its point of contact on sea-level rise, spoke at Sunday’s gathering.

Another group represented at the Harbor House discussion was the Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation, a group dedicated to peace, social justice and nonviolence, which about 18 months ago turned its attention to “confronting the climate crisis,” founder Glen Anderson said.

“The climate crisis is real,” he said.

Group member Bourtai Hargrove of Olympia called it the “big issue of our time,” saying something needs to be done for future generations.

Other public officials in attendance on Sunday included Olympia Mayor Stephen Buxbaum; port commissioners Bill McGregor and Sue Gunn; and Tumwater Mayor Pete Kmet.

The next two king tides are Monday and Tuesday. Monday’s king tide — 16.9 feet — occurs at 9:32 a.m. and Tuesday’s —16.5 feet — will occur at 10:16 a.m., according to the state Department of Ecology.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403

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