The Gulf of Mexico lapped up against the Galveston seawall Tuesday as strong onshore winds pushed tides unusually high, disrupting, at least for a little while, a typical weekday in May.

The high tides prompted the National Weather Service in League City to issue a coastal flood warning and caution that some roads might flood.

Tuesday should be the peak of the high tides this week, although coming days could see similar, if less dramatic, events, said Scott Overpeck, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

“We’re just having really strong winds come off the Gulf,” Overpeck said. “They’re from the south and they’re basically just pushing all the water up into the coastal area.”

The winds have been strong this week, consistently reaching speeds of up to 35 mph.

On Tuesday morning, the high tides were so high at Stewart Beach in Galveston that the Gulf inundated the park’s parking lot and surrounded its pavilion.

The parking lot was still soggy Tuesday afternoon, after the tides had receded.

The Galveston Park Board of Trustees, which manages the beach parks, has for years talked about fixing drainage problems at Stewart Beach, and earlier this year began planning on how keep the area drier. Usually the cause of flooding in the parking lots is heavy rains and not high tides, however.

The high tide didn’t leave any lasting damage to the beach’s parking lot, park board spokeswoman Jaree Fortin said. Beach cleaning crews did wake up early to move trash cans and lifeguard stations off the beach ahead of the coming tide, she said.

Galveston Beach Patrol lifeguards told visitors to stay away from rock groins that were nearly covered by the waves, and to try to stay on dry rocks, Chief Peter Davis said.

Tides as high as Tuesday’s typically only happen during tropical storms, he said.

Even high points on the beaches were affected by the high water.

The Galveston Fishing Pier, at 91st Street, closed Monday evening because of strong winds and high waves that would threaten people fishing there. The pier’s T-head, 1,000 feet out into the Gulf of Mexico, remained closed on Tuesday afternoon.

Farther east, at the 61st Street Fishing Pier, at least one angler was frustrated by the weather.

Silas Pacheco, who said he has fished from the pier every day for nearly two years, said the tides and waves stirred up food from the bottom of the Gulf, making red fish less interested in going after his bait.

“Everyone knows that too much is not a good sign,” Pacheco said. “I’ve been waiting for the wind to come down.”

Galveston city officials were concerned about the tides, because a high tide combined with heavy rain can cause street flooding around the island.

That probably won’t be the case, however, Overpeck said. The forecast going into the Memorial Day Weekend is sunny and dry, with the strong winds starting to fade away by the middle of the week.

“We’re going to be pretty dry for the next six, seven days,” he said.

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; or on Twitter @johnwferguson.

(2) comments

Susan Fennewald

Tides as high as this, or almost as high, happen almost every spring and fall. Galveston's normal tide level is about 2 ft. But with the strong winds and seasonal change in the moon and earth positions, the highest tides in spring and fall make it up to about 4 ft. That is why the beach vegetation line is at about 4ft.

Kelly Naschke

Unusual heights? Maybe to someone that’s new here. This happens pretty regularly.

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