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What Is An Alaska Bore Tide?

21 Sep 2019, 3:00 am

Surf’s up in Alaska, and the kind that convinced Tyler Gennick to move from San Diego, California, to Anchorage.

Long, beautiful, glassy, a little wild at times but amazing, all in one,” Gennick said describing this weather phenomenon.  “Little colder water, little thicker wet suit, beautiful scenery.  You got the mountains all behind you and the snow covered peaks. It really doesn’t get much better than this.”

Gennick is not alone, as both on-lookers and surfers come from all over the world to the Turnagain Arm, just south of the largest city in the state, to experience a bore tide.

As it pushes up in certain areas of the channel, the shape is just right so it forms this wave that you can actually surf,” said Murphy Gardner, who works for Turnagain Arm Surf Company.  “And you can ride it for maybe over a mile.”

This tidal phenomenon is a daily occurrence following low tide in an inlet when you have the clash of the tide coming in with the tide going out in a long & narrow channel.

It’s just the right length to create kind of a sloshing effect of the tides,” said a representative from the Alaska National Parks Service.  “All tides we know come in for six hours and then they go out for six hours.”

This “surf wave” can build up to a height of six feet and move up to 10 to 15 miles per hour along a path spanning 40 to 50 miles.

It works its way up Turnagain Arm, and you can leapfrog it with your car,” an Alaska NPS representative said.  “You can get ahead of it and watch it come by and do this over and over all the way from Beluga Point all the way up to Portage.”

If you want to see one of these rare events, make sure to be in place to watch or ride a bore tide at least 30 minutes before the forecast tide.

Just know that the water will calm down just before it arrives!

Also, always remember they can be dangerous, so make sure to stay off mud flats and enjoy them from somewhere that’s safe.


About the author
Meredith is a Certified Broadcast Meteorologist as designated by the American Meteorological Society.  She was born and raised in Cleveland but has worked from coast to coast covering almost every type of weather.  Meredith is a weather, space, and STEM journalist and has been live out in the field during destructive tropical storms on the Gulf Coast of Florida, raging wildfires in Southern Cali... Load Morefornia, and covered the wreckage from tornadoes in the Great Plains. In 2009, she reported on the damaging hail storm during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and in 2017, the historic California winter storms that produced record rain totals and devastating flash flooding.  Prior to joining WeatherNation, Meredith worked at KEYT/KKFX in Santa Barbara, CA, KOTA-TV in Rapid City, SD, WWSB-TV in Sarasota, FL, and began her career as an intern at WGN-TV in Chicago.  She was Santa Barbara's "Favorite Weathercaster of the Year" in 2016 and the Community Partner of the Year in 2017 for her volunteer work with Make-A-Wish Tri-Counties and awarded with the 2018 Valparaiso University Alumni Association First Decade Achievement Award. Meredith is the current chair of the American Meteorological Society's Station Scientist Committee, which focuses on raising greater awareness & outreach when it comes to science education for viewers.  She's also an accomplished journalist, producing weather and science stories including rocket launches at Vandenberg Air Force Base and the new GOES-16 satellite and it's impacts on weather forecasting.  Meredith was personally invited by NASA's Johnson Space Center to interview astronauts on the International Space Station and was the only meteorologist in the nation to do an exclusive report accompanying the GOES-West satellite from Colorado to Florida, reporting on and covering it's launch in 2018.  Meredith's also worked on features that took her paragliding along the coast, white water rafting in Northern California, learning to surf in the Pacific Ocean, and how to be an aerial photographer while flying a single engine plane! Say hi on Facebook, Twitter, & LinkedIn!

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