The annual king tides are right on time, flooding coastal streets with salty seawater that experts say will get higher with each decade.
And this year, the water may be tinged with red tide, the toxic algae that kills fish and causes respiratory problems in people. Beaches from Miami to Lake Worth and beyond have tested positive for red tide, forcing some to close for a few days last week.
King tides, the colloquial term for the highest high tides of the year, happen every year from September to November. They will peak this week, now through Saturday.
Peak high tide times vary by region, but daytime high tides from Miami to Delray Beach are generally expected to crest between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Monday, with those times creeping a bit later each day of the week. By Friday, the highest daytime tides are expected between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
For the third year in a row, the Sea Level Rise Solutions Project of South Florida hosted the event to showcase how king tides flood streets in Hollywood.
Experts predict sea level rise will only make the problem worse.
“We have people in Washington sticking their heads in the proverbial sand,” said Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who joined the group as they waded through Hollywood’s flooded streets.
“It’s unbelievable you’d have water running through the streets when it’s sunny,” said Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston. “It’s not just coastal communities that are affected by this anymore. I was in Cooper City yesterday and every single driveway had a lake in front of it.”
Mayor Josh Levy said it may cost an estimated $15 million to defend his city against sea level rise in the coming decade.
“We have to adapt to the new reality that is coming,” Levy said. “Mother Nature is in control here.”
On South South Lake Drive near the Intracoastal, waves crashed over the rocks and onto the road leading to a multi-million dollar home.
Dylan Bober, 15, said the king tides provide a “sneak peek” into what flooding will be like in Florida in the years to come.
“Just the sensation of watching a wave here is shocking,” said longtime resident Caryl Sandler Shuham. “You’re really kind of standing at ground zero. It’s scary.”
Dylan, a ninth grader at Cooper City High, said the Sea Level Rise group founded by members of Temple Solel in Hollywood is spreading the word about flooding in Florida and sea level rise.
“If we don’t act now, our apathy will come back and haunt future generations,” Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin told the crowd. “We cannot afford to be indifferent.”
Experts advise homeowners who live in floodprone areas to build higher seawalls; fix drainage problems; install check valves to prevent floodwater from backing up drains; and to move panel boxes, furnaces, water heaters and washers and dryers to elevated locations.
Walking through floodwaters can also be dangerous, experts say. If in your car, avoid driving through flooded areas. If you do drive through a flooded area, drive slowly. Creating waves can cause additional damage to surrounding landscaping and property.