Rain or no rain, beachfront streets flood due to ‘spring tide’

Moses Schwartz calls for a tow truck after his Nissan SUV sunk into the standing water on the 800 block of Alton Road in Miami Beach on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013.
Moses Schwartz calls for a tow truck after his Nissan SUV sunk into the standing water on the 800 block of Alton Road in Miami Beach on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013.


Miami Beach residents can expect high tides through Saturday — not just on the sand, but in the street.

Alton Road near 10th Street, on the bay side of the island, became a flood zone Thursday, the result of poor drainage and rising waters. So did parts of Purdy Avenue, and West Avenue.

In Broward County, Hollywood also reported flooding.

Rain or no rain, the waters still rose.

Moses Schwartz is one of the latest victims. He was pulling his Nissan to the curb along Alton to pick up his laundry when the right front side of the SUV began sinking. The ground under his front, passenger-side tire gave way.

Swamped, he ended up having to call a tow truck.

“It gets super flooded from the tide every couple of months,” said Schwartz who lived on the island for more than 20 years before moving to the Brickell area on the mainland. “It’s getting worse and worse as the years go by.”

Construction, including road work on Alton, can compound the headaches.

When tides are high, water also laps up against buildings along West Avenue, and sandbags are a common sight.

Nanette Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the city, stressed the city is keeping an eye on tide levels.

“We have crews out there and we will continue to have crews out. We are not ignoring the situation,” she said.

“These are the highest tides we’ll experience all year, and what we’ve heard is that Saturday will be the highest level,” she said.

The city is urging residents to take alternate routes — such as the Julia Tuttle or Venetian causeways — instead of MacArthur during the high tide.

“We’re telling people to avoid flood-prone areas,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said the city is thinking of short-term fixes to deal with the issue.

“We’re looking at improving our sea walls and raising some of them,” she said.

In search of a long-term solution, a delegation recently returned from the Netherlands, Rodriguez said, and the city will determine which of that country’s strategies to hold back high tides can be used here.

“Some of their ideas we can do, others we can’t as we are in different geographic areas,” Rodriguez said.

The current levels of high tide are caused by an astronomical event known as “spring tide,” according to Chuck Caracozza, a meteorologist from the National Weather Service.

Spring tide, which is not associated with any season, lasts for several days and occurs more than once a year when the moon and sun align with the Earth.

“It makes high tides higher, and low tides lower,” Caracozza said.

The highest astronomical tide occurs during September, October and November, and in South Florida is at its highest during October.

“If there were a storm system in the area it could be worse,” he added. “It’s tranquil waters now, so it’s only minor.”

It didn’t seem minor to Schwartz.

“It’ll be interesting to see what happens to Miami Beach in 10 to 20 years,” he said.

Rodriguez said the tide should be back to normal by early next week.

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