Tybee Island experiences increased high tides amid Atlantic storm activity

Noble Horvath

Beachgoers on Tybee Island Monday walked off the crossovers right into the waves with increased activity in the mid-Atlantic causing increasingly high tides over the weekend. Officials say tides like this aren’t out of the ordinary, but with storm activity happening frequently in the Atlantic, they must be prepared for […]

Beachgoers on Tybee Island Monday walked off the crossovers right into the waves with increased activity in the mid-Atlantic causing increasingly high tides over the weekend.

Officials say tides like this aren’t out of the ordinary, but with storm activity happening frequently in the Atlantic, they must be prepared for anything in the near future.

“Mostly, the astronomical high tide is something that we are traditionally looking at on a regular basis, sometimes it’s referred to as a king tide,” Chatham Emergency Management Agency Director Dennis Jones said.

Jones says astronomical tides associated with a new moon this time of year, mixed with a lot of activity going on in the mid-Atlantic are what cause 10-foot high tides like the ones seen Monday.

He says they’ve been monitoring these tides all weekend and the concern was not only on the beach but also Highway 80 going to and from the island.

“A couple of years ago, they elevated Highway 80 about eight inches, so that helped a lot,” Jones said.

Tybee Island City Manager Shawn Gillen says a few years ago, a 9.3-foot tide would have shut down Highway 80, but Monday, not so much.

“We got some water on the shoulder, maybe into the eastbound lanes, but we didn’t have to shut the road down,” Gillen said.

Out on the beach, water was all the way back up to the dunes.

Gillen says the recent multi-million-dollar beach renourishment project has helped keep beach erosion stable.

“We expect 20 to 30 percent loss in that first year, and that all depends on if you get some northeasters, or if you get some tidal activity like this,” he said.

Although there wasn’t any serious flooding Monday, Gillen says the island is not out of the woods yet.

“We’ve been lucky so far, but we still got another 60 days of hurricane activity that we’ve got to be aware of, so things can change really quickly,” he said.

The current renourishment project is expected to last seven to 10 years.

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