Joint Occurrence of High Tide and Storm Surge in California

by Reinhard E. Flick, Scripps Inst of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: World Marina '91


High tides or high storm surges separately generally do not pose a hazard for flooding or structural damage in California. However, when storms and periods of high tides coincide, the potential for damage to boating infrastructure and other coastal facilities is great. This was demonstrated during the winter of 1982-1983, when extreme tides, frequent storms and additional sea level increases due to climate fluctuations related to el Nino, contributed to cause over $100 million in damage to the California coast. During January 1988 a single severe storm caused massive damage to the small craft facility at King Harbor in Redondo Beach, California. The destruction from this event could have been even more severe and far more widespread had the timing of the high tide, storm surge and large waves, been closer. In order to assess the risk of coastal flooding from their simultaneous occurrence, it is necessary to estimate the joint probability distribution of tides and storm surge. The principal conclusion of this study is that the precise coincidence of extreme tides and peak storm surge, fortunately, is exceedingly rare.

Subject Headings: Storm surges | Tides | Joints | Floods | Ports and harbors | Storms | Probability | Water-based recreation | California | United States

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