Observations in “Mud Bay Lab” Offer Few Clues to Mystery

On Saturday we had more than a 24-foot tide range (between low and high). We also had a flat calm, so Michelle and I crossed the bay just before the 13-foot level to pick up the canoe on the roadside, freight several hundred pounds of seaweed to the homestead garden, and return.

Since we had some time to kill between walking across and launching the canoe, we decided to stay on the creek to observe the rising tide. We still have not figured out why we and many of our neighbors had so much trouble with a too-high tide on Halloween night.

up a creek

I'm up a creek. The big rock I'm facing (far left in photo) is the one that nearly covers on a 15 foot tide (Photo: Michelle Zeiger).

We went to the place where we’d crossed that night and started marking the tide at specific times, to compare with our tide software when we returned home. We’d already noticed that even though we’d arrived a few minutes late to cross the creek at the13-feet mark, the actual water level was a good 6 inches below where it should have been—adding further to the mystery. We watched as water crept up to near the top of the rock that had just become exposed when I crossed the creek Halloween night, coming within an inch of my hip wader boot tops.

When we checked our noted time against the tide chart for that night, we saw that at the time we crossed, the creek should have been at the 13-foot level, i.e. about 3 inches below the tops of average rubber boots. Instead, it was as deep as it would normally be at the 15.16-foot tide!

Another odd thing: we’d had more rain on Saturday and a few days before than we’d had on or around Halloween. If anything, the water should have been higher Saturday than it had been the week before.

As for why we got so much water, I wonder if storms to the south might not have created a smooth bulge of seawater that moved up the coast until it flooded the bay. This often happens, but we know when it does, because we see swells coming from windstorms south of us. There was nothing like that on Halloween night. The water rose calmly, just as it did on Saturday, with hardly a ripple.

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