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Powerful king tide causes minor flooding on Boston waterfront

King tide brings in 12 foot tide to Long Wharf
On Tuesday Oct. 29, King tide brought a 12 foot tide at Long Wharf. (Shelby Lum|Globe Staff)

A powerful king tide brought minor flooding to the Boston waterfront Tuesday afternoon, a scene that experts say will probably be replayed in the future as sea levels rise.

Visitors to the waterfront near the New England Aquarium around 12:30 p.m. had to dodge waves slamming over docks and maneuver around water pooling on walkways.

“I just got here from Hawaii,” said J.T. Gamberoni, who was visiting the waterfront with a friend. “[This is] not what I was expecting.”

A king tide is an “exceptionally high tide” that occurs when the sun and moon align and the “gravitational pull on the Earth is at its strongest,” according to NASA.


A father who did not wish to give his name held his 27-month-old son as they looked out at the water on Long Wharf.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

“I always come here around high tide,” said Terence Chauvet, who works in the North End. “I’ve never seen it like this before.”

Tiffany Macarelli rushed from her job at the New England Aquarium to see the floods that everyone was talking about at work.

“They’re definitely the highest that I’ve seen before. I’ve lived here my whole life,” said Macarelli, who works with the aquarium’s youth development programs. “It kind of makes you pause to think about some things that you can do, like [environmental] actions you can take in your life, to help alleviate the situation.”

People took in the scene at Long Wharf.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

A US Geological Survey expert warned in a statement from NASA in August that king tides are going to get worse.

“With rising sea levels, the extreme water levels experienced . . . with king tides will become more frequent and will become a challenge for our coastal communities and infrastructure,” said Andrea O’Neill, an oceanographer at the USGS.

Kristin Poch of Wellesley dipped her toes in the water at Long Wharf.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff
Ted Rye, of Needham carried his shoes as he walked through the water at Long Wharf during.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Alyssa Lukpat can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @AlyssaLukpat.