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By Amy Katz
Hundreds of visitors to Montecito’s Butterfly beach on January 22, 2023, a favorite seascape of Royals and Movie Stars, were confused, then awed, to see rocks strewn all over the walkways, sidewalks, street and sand, further altering a landscape already dramatically changed in recent weeks due to the atmospheric river/storm surge.
The culprit was a “King Tide”, which sent waves and rocks catapulting over the sea wall in a never-before-seen surge in front of the luxurious Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel and Coral Casino Club. Notably, much of the debris and shells that have been on the beach in recent days are gone: rocks are now being reigning feature.
King tides occur when the orbits and alignment of the sun, moon and Earth merges to produce the most gargantuan tidal effects of the year.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website, “rubble on the road and pro-surf worthy waves predict the way our landscapes will be in the future: King tides preview how sea level rise will affect coastal places. As time goes by, the water level reached now during a king tide will be the water level reached at high tide on an average day.”
More regal tides were expected Monday and Tuesday, although not quite as high as Saturday’s stone thrower.