Tides are the natural ebb and flow of the ocean. The ocean is constantly swishing back and forth with the help of the earth's rotation and the moon's gravitational pull on the earth. The tide usually changes from low to high (or high to low depending where you start) approximately every six hours, making two low tides and two high tides every twenty-four hours. Occasionally, there will be three tides within a twelve-hour period. This is due to fact that the tidal change varies and is never exactly six hours apart. The slight variations in the tidal change result in the tide moving forward approximately one hour every twenty-four hours.

Tides vary around the world's oceans depending on the latitude and longitude, the size of the body of water, and the contour of the coastline. The tide is measured in feet above and below the average low tide for the area. In Southern California, the tide can change between one and seven feet in a six -hour period. Tides become more extreme when there is a full or new moon, and can also be exaggerated by large surf and storm surge.

It is important to consider the tides anytime you plan on visiting the beach. High tides can trap you or wash you off rocky outcroppings and jetties, and can surge up beach, washing out unsuspecting sunbathers. Low tides can create shallow and hazardous surf conditions and sometimes enhance the effects of rip currents.


The tides have been accurately predicted for the entire year using a mathematical formula. You can access specific tide information for the Orange County area by reading the weather section of your newspaper, or by viewing the data from the OC Now surf Report