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Beachcombers alert! Rare tidal event will hit Olympia’s shores over next few days

Tides are expected to hit some of their lowest points of the summer in Olympia starting today.

NOAA says tides in Olympia are expected to reach 3.96 feet below average levels at 2:10 p.m. Tuesday. At 3 p.m. Wednesday, the low will sink to 3.49 below the average level.

The low tide will gradually move closer to average levels up to the end of the work week. Here are Olympia’s tide estimates through the coming weekend:

  • Tuesday, June 6 at 2:10 p.m.: -3.96 feet

  • Wednesday, June 7 at 3 p.m.: -3.49 feet

  • Thursday, June 8 at 3:52 p.m.: -2.59 feet

  • Friday, June 9 at 4:46 p.m.: -1.27 feet

  • Saturday, June 10 at 5:43 p.m.: 0.38 feet

  • Sunday, June 11 at 6:44 p.m.: 2.22 feet

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The only days when low tides will exceed June’s low tides are July 3-5, where water levels are expected to exceed 4 feet below average estimates, NOAA projects. The lowest will be on July 4 at -4.31 feet.

The lowest tide on record dates back to Jan. 2, 1978, when the Puget Sound near Olympia dipped 4.33 feet.

If you venture out onto the beach during the low tides, tread lightly. Low tides are the most stressful time for animals on the beach, scientists say. Be careful not to walk on eel grass – which juvenile salmon use to hide – and know that turning over a rock could mean ruining a shore crab’s home.

And leave your pails behind. An animal carried around in a bucket may become too warm and will have to find a new home when returned to the sound.

WSDOT travel advisory

WSDOT has issued travel warnings to those driving trucks, RVs with a low ground clearance and vehicles towing a trailer onto ferries. Low tides cause loading ramps to have a steep slope, which can create a steep passage for onboarding vehicles.

The department says that trucks with a ground clearance of 14 inches should avoid traveling by ferry on the Fauntleroy/Vashon, Southworth/Vashon and Point Defiance/Tahlequah routes at low tides. Here are the times to look out for, per the department’s warning:

  • Tuesday, June 6 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (-3.7 feet)

  • Wednesday, June 7 from noon to 4 p.m. (-3.3 feet)

  • Thursday, June 8 from 1:15 to 4:15 p.m. (-2.4 feet)

  • Thursday, June 15 from 9 to 10:30 a.m. (-1.5 feet)

  • Friday, June 16 from 9 to 11:45 a.m. (-2.1 feet)

  • Saturday, June 17 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (-2.4 feet)

  • Sunday, June 18 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. (-2.4 feet)

  • Monday, June 19 from 10:45 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. (-2.3 feet)

  • Tuesday, June 20 from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. (-1.9 feet)

  • Wednesday, June 21 from 12:45 to 2:15 p.m. (-1.5 feet)