High Tide Bulletin: Winter 2020

When you may experience higher than normal tides between December 2020 and February 2021.

The rising and falling of the sea is a phenomenon upon which we can always depend. Tides are the regular rise and fall of the sea surface caused by the gravitational pull of the moon and sun and their position relative to the earth. There are some factors that cause the tides to be higher than what is "normally" seen from day to day. This bulletin tells you when you may experience higher than normal high tides for the period of time between December 2020 and February 2021.

We also publish annual high tide flooding reports that present a broad outlook of what to expect for a given year in terms of high tide flooding, as well as a summary of high tide flooding events for the previous calendar year.

Regional outlook map

Select a region below to see when you may experience higher than normal tides from December 2020 and February 2021. Depending on non-tidal conditions (wind, storms, etc.), regions may experience impacts before or after the dates mentioned here.

Higher than normal high tides alone do not necessarily cause coastal flooding. However, they are becoming increasingly impactful due to continued sea level rise. High tide flooding that inundates busy streets, and washes out beaches is more likely to occur during these periods depending on your location along the coast. More severe flooding may result if adverse weather — heavy rains, strong wind or big waves — conditions are present.

Northeast outlook

Includes Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York

When will the tides be higher than normal?

  • December 12 - 17
  • January 11 - 13

Why will they be higher than normal?

  • A perigean spring tide will be occurring in December. This is when the moon is either new or full and closest to earth. Higher than normal high tides and lower than normal low tides will occur.
  • The increased angle of the sun relative to the Earth, which reaches a maximum during the Winter Solstice (December 21).

What kind of impact might I expect along the coast?

  • Low lying areas may flood, however high tides alone will likely not cause a significant impact on the coast in most areas unless accompanied by a storm or strong winds.

Where might I expect high tide flooding?

Tide stations at the following locations have the greatest chance of seeing high tide flooding:

  • Bar Harbor, ME; Portland, ME; Boston, MA; Providence, RI; Kings Point, NY

Regional outlook Text Only

Northeast outlook

When will the tides be higher than normal?

  • December 12 - 17
  • January 11 - 13

Why will they be higher than normal?

  • A perigean spring tide will be occurring in December. This is when the moon is either new or full and closest to earth. Higher than normal high tides and lower than normal low tides will occur.
  • The increased angle of the sun relative to the Earth, which reaches a maximum during the Winter Solstice (December 21).

What kind of impact might I expect along the coast?

  • Low lying areas may flood, however high tides alone will likely not cause a significant impact on the coast in most areas unless accompanied by a storm or strong winds.

Where might I expect high tide flooding?

Tide stations at the following locations have the greatest chance of seeing high tide flooding:

  • Bar Harbor, ME; Portland, ME; Boston, MA; Providence, RI; Kings Point, NY

Mid-Atlantic outlook

Includes New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, District of Columbia, Virginia.

When will the tides be higher than normal?

  • December 12 - 17
  • January 11 - 14

Why will they be higher than normal?

  • A perigean spring tide will be occurring in December. This is when the moon is either new or full and closest to earth. Higher than normal high tides and lower than normal low tides will occur.
  • The increased angle of the sun relative to the Earth, which reaches a maximum during the Winter Solstice (December 21).

What kind of impact might I expect along the coast?

  • Minor tidal flooding along the coast, in particular in low-lying areas.
  • If a storm occurs at this time, increased levels of tidal flooding and coastal erosion may occur.
  • Lower than normal low tides will also occur.

Where might I expect high tide flooding?

Tide stations at the following locations have the greatest chance of seeing high tide flooding:

  • The Battery, NY; Bergen Point, NY; Sandy Hook, NJ; Atlantic City, NJ; Cape May, NJ; Lewes, DE

Southeast outlook

Includes North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Eastern Florida coast.

When will the tides be higher than normal?

  • December 12 - 16

Why will they be higher than normal?

  • A perigean spring tide will be occurring in December. This is when the moon is either new or full and closest to earth. Higher than normal high tides and lower than normal low tides will occur.
  • The increased angle of the sun relative to the Earth, which reaches a maximum during the Winter Solstice (December 21).

What kind of impact might I expect along the coast?

  • Minor tidal flooding along the coast, in particular in low-lying areas.
  • If a storm occurs at this time, increased levels of tidal flooding and coastal erosion may occur.
  • Lower than normal low tides will also occur.

Gulf Coast outlook

Includes Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Western Florida coast.

Why will they be higher than normal?

  • The Gulf Coast will not be significantly impacted.

Why won’t they be impacted?

  • In many locations of the Gulf Coast, the tidal range is relatively small compared to other regions of the U.S, so they will not be as significantly impacted by a perigean spring tide.

West Coast outlook

Includes California, Oregon, Washington State.

When will the tides be higher than normal?

  • December 11 - 18
  • January 9 - 15

Why will they be higher than normal?

  • A perigean spring tide will be occurring in December. This is when the moon is either new or full and closest to earth. Higher than normal high tides and lower than normal low tides will occur.
  • The increased angle of the sun relative to the Earth, which reaches a maximum during the Winter Solstice (December 21).

What kind of impact might I expect along the coast?

  • Much of the west coast will experience their highest tides of 2020 in December and in some locations are predicted to exceed flood thresholds from tides alone.

Where might I expect High Tide Flooding?

Tide stations at the following locations have the greatest chance of seeing high tide flooding:

  • Toke Point, WA; South Beach, OR; Charleston, OR; Port Orford, OR; Humboldt Bay, CA; Santa Monica, CA; San Diego, CA

Hawaii and the Pacific Islands outlook

Includes Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, Midway, Kwajalein, and Wake Island.

When will the tides be higher than normal?

  • Hawaii and the Pacific Islands are unlikely to experience coastal flooding based primarily on tides this winter.

ALASKA outlook

When will the tides be higher than normal?

  • December 11 - 17
  • January 10 -15

Why will they be higher than normal?

  • A perigean spring tide will be occurring in December. This is when the moon is either new or full and closest to earth. Higher than normal high tides and lower than normal low tides will occur.
  • The increased angle of the sun relative to the Earth, which reaches a maximum during the Winter Solstice (December 21).

What kind of impact might I expect along the coast?

  • Due to the topography, in particular for southeast Alaska (less low lying areas), tidal flooding will generally not have a significant impact on the coast unless there is a severe storm.
high tide flooding (King Tide) in Washington State

View the latest report summarizing high tide flooding events in 2019 and our high tide flooding outlook through April 2021. The report is based on new, national flooding thresholds. It focuses on more impactful, deeper floods at some locations and expands the outlook to about 100 coastal locations.

More Information

Search Our Stories
Get Social
Last updated:
02/26/21

Author: NOAA

How to cite this article

Contact Us