California king tides concern some environmentalists

SAN DIEGO - On the first day of a rare phenomenon, Mother Nature put on quite a show at Mission Beach.

California king tides only happen a couple of times a year when the Earth, moon and sun align. The extreme high and low tides give way to extreme rides for surfers.

Craig Beck was so captivated by the ocean, he kept stopping mid-sentence to watch the waves.

"Sorry, these are the sickest waves right now," Beck said as he laughed at himself. "I got distracted."

Beck has met up with his friends every morning before work in the same spot along Mission Beach for the past 20 years. They watch the waves, but they don't always grab their boards. They could not resist when the high tide of 7.1 feet hit around 7:30 a.m. Wednesday.

They say California king tides pack more punch.

"I was going on a rodeo ride under water and getting kind of slammed," Beck said. "I've got a lot of water on the inside of my face right now."

He said it was much different from the day before, adding, "Yesterday was kind of clean and crispy, and today was ... a little bit of teeth and jaws."

Lifeguards say if king tides had lined up with last week's high tides it could have been dangerous.

The group San Diego Coastkeeper worries the danger is ahead.

In a statement, the group said: "The annual king tide events offer a glimpse into what impacts will occur with higher sea levels. The communities of San Diego were mostly built with the thought that our coastline was a static landform that wouldn't change. With the threat of climate change and associated sea level rise, it's vital that we understand how a higher sea level can affect us. According to the San Diego Foundation's Regional Focus 2050 Study, which included contributions from more than 40 multi-disciplinary experts from regional universities, local governments, public sector agencies, nonprofits and private sector organizations, increases in sea level in San Diego could be 12-18 inches by 2050."

Beck was not too worried, saying, "I think the earth can handle it."

Beck was more focused on handling the waves in the meantime.

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