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    Monday, June 18, 2018-9:58:19P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Regional News

Marshalls Islands braces for weekend king tides

MAJURO — King tides have been building in height since Thursday around the Marshall Islands, with ocean inundation anticipated through Tuesday at peak tide periods.

“Major inundation possible inside the lagoon this evening through Tuesday night,” warned the Marshall Islands National Weather Service in a forecast issued Saturday morning.

“We’re on stand-by through Tuesday,” Public Works Minister Tony Muller said Saturday of preparation for possible ocean flooding of Majuro Atoll, the capital that has a population of about 30,000. Heavy equipment, including bulldozers, is being pre-positioned at critical locations around Majuro so emergency crews can respond quickly in the event of flooding of roads or housing areas, he said.

The single road along the 30-mile length of this coral atoll that is barely a meter above sea level is often blocked during inundation events by coral, rocks, sand and garbage tossed up by waves.

In this photo from last month’s peak high tide in Majuro, a local youngster reacts as king tide-driven waves wash over a seawall on Majuro Atoll.  Photo by Giff JohnsonIn this photo from last month’s peak high tide in Majuro, a local youngster reacts as king tide-driven waves wash over a seawall on Majuro Atoll. Photo by Giff Johnson

The government National Disaster Management Office is on high alert, using its mass text messaging system for the first time Friday to issue a high tide advisory, alerting residents that “inundation is very likely” through Tuesday.

January and February are when the Marshall Islands sees its highest tides of the year.

The U.S. National Weather Service in Guam issued an advisory Saturday morning warning of the possibility of “major inundation” over the next four days of king tides.

“From this evening to Tuesday evening, major inundation of one to two feet is possible, especially during high tides inside the lagoon along north facing shores near the airport eastward to west facing shores near the post office,” the U.S. National Weather Service warned.

Disaster preparedness officials have positioned sand bags in some areas that lack shoreline protection and are prone to flooding during peak high tides. But even with seawalls, many of the lowest areas on the atoll flood when king tides hit.