King Tide earlier this month produced localized flooding in downtown Sarasota, city manager reports

Some areas saw tide increased by as much as 1 foot

Vehicles negotiate a street in downtown Sarasota that experienced flooding associated with the recent King Tide. Image courtesy City of Sarasota

Exceptionally high tides known as “King Tides,” in conjunction with the proximity of Hurricane Nate, caused sunny day flooding in some areas of the city of Sarasota in early October, City Manager Tom Barwin reported in his Oct. 13 newsletter.

U.S. 41 near the intersection of Fruitville Road and Gulfstream Avenue; the Saprito Fishing Pier parking lot; and the Eloise Werlin Park parking lot — which are low-lying areas — all experienced localized flooding, Barwin pointed out.

“Public Works [Department] crews … monitoring the situation … quickly learned [that] [Sarasota] Bay was pushing sea water up through storm drains on some streets,” Barwin continued.

“King Tides occur regularly each year when the sun and moon align closer to the earth,” he continued. In this case, meteorologists with the National Weather Service informed city staff that the winds associated with Hurricane Nate magnified the effects, causing tides between half-a-foot and 1 foot above normal high tide in Sarasota, Barwin noted.

“Many longtime residents have mentioned they’ve never seen such a high tide in Sarasota,” he wrote. “In my sixth year serving as City Manager, this ‘sunny day flooding’ experience was a first — and underscored the need to continue to plan sensibly for the future.”

Barwin pointed out, “While King Tides are a natural phenomenon, they do offer a glimpse of what we can expect in the decades ahead and serve as a reminder that sea level rise is very real,” he noted.

The potential impacts of climate change “are top priorities for the City Commission” and its three-year Strategic Plan, he continued. “Moving forward, the City’s Sustainability team will incorporate this King Tide occurrence into the Climate Adaptation Plan, as we analyze which aspects of the City’s infrastructure are particularly vulnerable and what we should do about it,” he added.