What’s a king tide and why are they flooding Boston’s waterfront?

Boston’s Long Wharf was covered in water Tuesday, as the king tides hit Massachusetts this week. —Photo courtesy of Jean Nagy

If you went for a walk this week on Boston’s Long Wharf and are wondering why your shoes are soaked, they’re called king tides.

And they’ll continue to flood parts of Boston’s waterfront, as well as other coastal areas of Massachusetts, through Wednesday.

King tides—as they are colloquially known—are the highest tides of the year and occur when the Earth, sun, and moon are as close to each other as possible in their relative orbits (click over here for a visual explainer).

The first of the three king tides this week hit Boston on Monday. Tuesday’s king tide was more of the same.


According to the South Shore-based North and South Rivers Watershed Association, this week’s king tides will be more than two feet higher than average and will “give us a glimpse of our average high tide sometime around or after mid-century.”

The final king tide will hit the Massachusetts coast Wednesday afternoon at 2:13 p.m. So expect to see more photos like the ones below, or take a trip down to the harbor and (safely) check it out yourself. Maybe just bring an extra pair of socks.

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