King Tides Explained

By MBTP News Staff | October 13, 2020 at 11:00 AM EDT
HORRY COUNTY, S.C. – Tides, in general, are impacted by the moon and its relationship between the sun and earth. The gravitational pulls are what cause the tides to go in and out. In a normal 24-hour period, Myrtle Beach will see two high tides and two low tides. One about every six-hours.

According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, “the term ‘King Tide’ is a non-scientific term used to describe the highest seasonal tides that occur each year.”

(King Tide waters on Holiday Boulevard at Myrtle Beach Travel Park – Sept. 2020.)

Holiday Boulevard, the road inside the dunes of Myrtle Beach Travel Park that runs parallel to the ocean, is a low-lying area and prone to slight coastal flooding during King Tide events. When this type of flooding happens, Myrtle Beach Travel Park uses a backhoe loader to dig paths in the sand on the beach in front of the Park. Doing this at each beach access allows the floodwater to drain back into the ocean.

(A backhoe loader is used to dig paths in the sand on the beach to help drain water from Holiday Boulevard – Sept. 2020.)

In Myrtle Beach, the average high tide range is about 5.5 feet, whereas during a King Tide event the high tide range may reach 7 feet or higher.

You can see by the following photo, floodwaters from King Tides do not typically reach any campsites, the water is mostly contained to Holiday Boulevard. The campsite grounds are slightly higher than the low-lying Holiday Boulevard roadway.

(King Tide Water on Holiday Boulevard, campsites unaffected – Sept. 2020.)

SCDHEC reports, “[King] Tides occur naturally and are typically caused when a spring tide (when the sun, moon, and earth align during a new and full moon, increasing tide ranges) takes place when the moon is closest to Earth during the 28-day elliptical orbit.”

(This photo explains a Perigean spring tide. Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.)

We’re likely to see what’s called a ‘perigean-spring tide‘ during the fall and spring months, said Myrtle Beach based meteorologist, Sean Bailey. “We still have the alignment. The moon, the earth, and the sun. However, the moon is actually closer to earth at those points. This can happen anywhere from six to eight times a year,” Bailey said.

“Once the moon is actually closer to the earth, that means there’s even stronger gravitational pull on the oceans. And that’s what’s going to cause even higher high tides and lower low tides. That’s what’s going to cause that water to push into Holiday Boulevard,” Bailey said.

The SCDHEC has predicted King Tide events to happen on the following groups of dates in 2021:

  • April 26-29
  • May 24-28
  • June 22-25
  • July 22-24
  • October 7-10
  • November 4-8
  • December 3-7




From 8/14 - 8/31/22

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Updated 07/08/2021