Update from Kate – High Tides Just Around the Corner! Read here for details!

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December 7, 2016


High Tides to Dampen Holiday Season
Temporary measures in place to help, but travel plans likely to be affected.


San Rafael, CA - High-tide flooding is expected in Marin County starting Sunday, December 11, and the County’s flood control experts are urging residents and visitors to stay informed of changing weather conditions and research how high tides might affect travel plans.

 Flooding in Marin County

Based on tide predictions published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), travelers can expect flooded roadways in parts of Marin from December 10 to December 16, as well as January 8 to January 14. Drivers are encouraged to consider using alternative routes, avoid driving through ponded water, and allow extra time for trips, especially during peak commute times.


The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) plans to close the lower half of the Manzanita Park and Ride Lot, located at the junction of Highways 101 and 1 near Mill Valley, from December 8 through December 16. The closure, consistent with previous years, is done because the area is notoriously susceptible to tidal flooding when tide levels exceed 6.2 feet. The Marin County Department of Public Works (DPW) and the Marin County Flood Control and Water Conservation District have worked with Caltrans staff over the past several months on various potential short and long-term options to alleviate the flooding situation along Highway 1 in the Manzanita area.


District staff took the lead with a temporary solution for this winter by constructing a 175-foot-long sandbag wall along Highway 1, adjacent to the Caltrans maintenance yard, where flooding from the bay historically inundates the road. This created a barrier for the west side culvert and ditch system. While the sandbag wall will help with flooding from this one location, the risk of flooding is still high at other locations in the area given the predicted tides levels.


The accompanying chart includes predicted high tides at or above 6.3 feet during December and January at the San Francisco tide gauge, as provided by NOAA. 

High Tide Prediction Table

December 13, 14 and January 11 are predicted to be extreme high tides, also known as king tides. These occur when the earth is closest to the sun and when the moon’s orbit is closest to the earth, thereby causing a strong gravitational pull on surface water. Normal high tides can still be significant due to non-astronomical factors, even when king tide conditions are not present. Future projections by the California King Tides Project indicate that these annual king tides are a preview of what could become the normal, daily tides as sea level rises in the coming years. The project predicts that there are potential impacts on future tidal flooding.


“Steps are being taken to help with flooding in the Manzanita area, as with all the flood control zones throughout Marin,” said Tony Williams, DPW Principal Civil Engineer. “But there is still much to be done to protect our coastal regions in future years.”


Check 511.org for latest traffic and transit information; DPW’s Twitter feed, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) traffic website and CHP Marin’s Twitter feed are also excellent resources for travelers.