What's a king tide? Tampa Bay sees higher than normal water levels

The king tide, in addition to water pushed in by Hurricane Nate, caused minor flooding Saturday, Oct. 7, near the Don CeSar. Video: Rob Finnerty, WTSP

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- There's one type of tide that rules them all, raising Tampa Bay's water levels beyond what typically is considered normal.

A so-called king tide event is ongoing. It's not an abnormal phenomenon -- king tides happen a couple times a year -- but it's noticeable when it happens, resulting in water inching past the shoreline and causing minor flooding in low-lying areas.

The particular, predictable alignment of the Earth, moon and sun create an even greater "pull" on the planet, resulting in a higher water level. 

Take St. Petersburg, for example: the city averages just under a 3-foot high tide. Since Thursday, high tides have averaged in excess of 3 feet and occasionally pushed closer to 4 feet, according to preliminary data from the National Ocean Service.

Elevated water levels are forecast during the next several days.

A south wind from Hurricane Nate exacerbated the tide during the weekend as more water was forced to pile along the coast. 

More: Hurricane Nate contributing to higher than usual tides in Tampa Bay

10News' Rob Finnerty came across at least a foot or two of water on land near the Don CeSar. Carolyn Yovan recently moved near the famous hotel, not expecting such water levels outside of a tropical system.

"To not even have a storm and just walk outside and see that this is tide and repercussions from a tropical storm in the gulf is kind of disarming," Yovan said.

Photos: Types of tides

There is concern among scientists that king tides -- again, a natural occurrence -- only will worsen in the years ahead because of sea-level rise. Areas not typically susceptible to higher water levels could experience flooding for the first time.

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© 2017 WTSP-TV


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