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Sudden Beach Flooding & Terrain Traps at High Tide

The shoreline can go from completely dry to several feet under water in only seconds. This is caused by the natural rhythm of the sea that is constantly changing. During summer the water can look calm and inviting to those playing along its edge but it can be deceiving. Under certain conditions, small scale flooding caused by unexpected waves can knock people down and pull them into deeper water or a current. In late fall and winter, flooding can be much more intense. The shoreline can turn from a football size field to being totally under water in seconds, easily reaching the vegetation.

Flooding – both small and large scale – are happening all the time as waves come ashore. Sometimes it is obvious and sometimes it is not as waves come ashore at varying periods. Often large and powerful waves will only arrive on shore after more than 30 minutes. Learn to have fun and be safe on the coast by understanding the rhythm of the sea.

How to be CoastSmart 

  • Stay alert
  • Keep your eye on the water and avoid turning your back to it
  • Consult a tide table, the swell forecast, and the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve’s Wave Hazard Rating before your shoreline activities

Beach Flooding

Terrain Traps

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A beach can seem like a vast playground but the tide can come in surprisingly quickly. Incoming tides can isolate rocks from headlands and the shore. Avoid the temptation of strolling out to an interesting rock without knowing when the tide rolls back in.


How to be CoastSmart