King Tide Gives South Florida A Taste Of Life Underwater

Many parts of South Florida appear to have escaped the worst impacts of King Tide flooding this week — at least compared with tidal flooding the previous two Octobers.

King tides in October 2017 came on the heels of record-setting summer rains and Hurricane Irma. In October 2016, a rare “super moon” intensified the highest of the high tides, which can cause water to bubble up through storm drains and into streets, corroding cars and impeding traffic.

Neither hurricanes nor supermoons were a factor this October, but South Floridians were nevertheless on guard. The flooding the King Tides cause on otherwise dry days is widely seen as a harbinger of sea-level rise -- and planners use the tides to gauge whether their adaptation efforts are working.

This month, the tides also came with added concern that waters may contain algae from the red tide bloom detected at some South Florida beaches last weekend

Here are some scenes from flood-vulnerable areas around South Florida:

Read more: A Million Florida Homes May See Sea-Level Rise Flooding By 2100. Scientists Say: Act Now.

Very little flooding in Little Havana

There wasn’t much flooding in José Martí Park along the Miami River in the city’s Little Havana neighborhood. Water lapped at a five-inch concrete wall running along a walkway at the river’s edge, but only splashed over when a yacht passed by.

Emergency managers from the City of Miami took the opportunity to deploy a drone to map flood-vulnerable areas around the park. City of Miami Commissioner Ken Russell, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Eileen Higgins and State Sen. José Javier Rodríguez all showed up to scope out the scene.

“We’ve solved climate change!” one of their aides joked.

There wasn’t much flooding at José Martí Park but city emergency managers were ready with an inflatable flood barrier.
Credit Kate Stein / WLRN News

Rodríguez — wearing the iconic black rain boots on which he’s written #ActOnClimateFL  — said Florida needs a unified strategy at the state level to address sea-level rise, rising temperatures and other impacts of global warming. It's particularly important, he said, in light of a report released Monday by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which found that the world may begin to experience catastrophic effects from global warming in the next 20 to 30 years — or sooner.

Sen. José Javier Rodríguez wore his iconic black rain boots.
Credit Kate Stein / WLRN News

“The message from the IPCC is they can provide all the data they can, and they have for a very long time now. The question is, are governments actually going to take that information and act on it,” he said. “Our job is elected is to continue fighting for those policy changes.”

Rodríguez said he specifically thinks Florida needs a coordinated plan among state agencies to focus on dealing with climate change impacts and funding infrastructure improvements.

“The almost-complete inaction with respect to climate change in Tallahassee isn’t a result of ideological considerations or partisanship, necessarily,” he said. “It really is more intimidation with the problem.”

King Tide covered all of the boat ramps at the Matheson Hammock Marina in Miami-Dade County.
Credit Teresa Frontado / WLRN News

Boats out of the water

Flooding around Matheson Hammock Park in Coral Gables, and particularly in the launching area of the marina, was keeping boaters out of Biscayne Bay on Tuesday morning. 

"I wanted to try out the boat after servicing it but the ramp is rendered unusable because of the king tide," said Alex Alvarez, who came to Matheson Hammock Marina hauling his boat, Intrepid. 

"I've never seen it this bad. Literally, the water on the ramp comes up to the black top [of the ramp] and I'm afraid that if I launch I'm probably going to end up with half of my truck underwater so I am not even going to take a chance."

The rising waters, which in some areas reached up to 15 inches, blocked also access to the park's offices and beaches. 

The sea wall at Fort Lauderdale's Rio Vista neighborhood was submerged by a few inches on Tuesday morning as King Tide hits its peak.
Credit Caitie Switalski / WLRN News

Historic house in Fort Lauderdale spared from flooding

King Tide flooding pooled slowly on the sidewalks in front of the Historic Stranahan House and Museum in Downtown Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday morning. The tides were highest here around 9 a.m.

Bubbling up from the small cracks in sidewalks, water became a thin, shiny coating in front of the city’s oldest building. But the flooding this year was much less, compared to a few years ago. That’s because the building put in a new, updated sea wall in the past year.

Much of the sidewalk down Las Olas Blvd. looked damp, and that continued almost two miles east, until the Las Olas Isles neighborhood. There, a few canals overflowed large puddles that covered crosswalks and created a splash when drivers tried to get through.

South of Las Olas Blvd., in the Rio Vista neighborhood, flooding was even worse. Across the street from some houses on Cordova Rd. the sea wall was completely submerged in water, a few inches deep.

A boat dock was also completely under water, and several small fish washed up in the grass and struggled to get back to water they could swim in.

A police car drives near king tide flooding on canal drive off A1A in Pompano beach on Oct. 9, 2018.
Credit Katie Lepri / WLRN News

'Couple of inches' in Pompano Beach

King Tides flooded a few parts of Pompano Beach Tuesday morning, but it was less noticeable than previous years.

For Dionne Absheer the water, while inconvenient for walking her dog Athena, wasn’t terrible.

“Couple inches of water in the middle of the road," she pointed out while her husband stood next to her with the dog. "The water here is pretty high, but it’s just one little part of the street. It’s not the whole road, the whole road isn’t flooded, it’s just one little section.”

Bikes and water don't mix in Palm Beach

Janet Ryant had to cut her daily walk short after the stroller she was pushing got stuck in bushes trying to avoid the water on the Palm Beach Lake Trail.
Credit Sam Turken / WLRN News

Sea water completely covered parts of the Palm Beach lake trail Tuesday morning. The water slowly rose over a span of two hours beginning at 8 a.m. and appeared to be seeping through beneath the sea wall. Some people cut their walks along the trail short due to the flooding.

Janet Ryant at first tried to continue her walk while pushing a stroller with two children. But after walking through nearby bushes to avoid the water, she had enough of the trail and left.

Carl McCaskill was also one of a few bicyclists riding along the trail Tuesday morning.

He uses the trail every day and said the flooding at this time of year from the king tides is worsening.

“I had to get a bike that has aluminum wheels instead of stainless steel,” he said, “because, literally, I rusted out two bikes driving through here because it’s saltwater.”

10th Street and Harris Avenue in Key West was still flooded by early Tuesday afternoon.
Credit Nancy Klingener / WLRN News

Some flooding in Key West

In Key West, the usual places had flooding from the King Tides on Tuesday — and the island had already gotten wet over the previous two days as the outer bands from Hurricane Michael lashed the island as it passed by to the west on its way into the Gulf of Mexico.

Jon Rizzo, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Key West, said the islands were not expected to receive a storm surge from Michael.

But the storm did deliver more than an inch of rain Sunday and Monday and some heavy winds, including a gust of 56 mph recorded Monday afternoon at Key West International Airport.