When it comes to seawalls, many factors require attention—structural integrity, materials, and environmental conditions, to name a few. One aspect that often goes unnoticed is the impact of seasonal tides on seawall health. During winter months, tides in the northern hemisphere tend to be lower, which may create specific challenges for your seawall.
Why Tides are Lower in Winter
The Earth’s orbit around the sun is not a perfect circle but an ellipse, which means the distance between Earth and the sun varies throughout the year. During the winter months, Earth is farthest from the sun. This causes the sun’s gravitational pull on Earth—and consequently, on its water bodies—to be weaker, leading to lower tides.
Impact on Seawalls
Over time seawalls can develop serious structural issues from excessive hydrostatic pressure. This pressure builds up when heavy rainfall or flooding leads to water accumulation behind the wall. The resulting force presses against the wall, sometimes causing damage. This problem is exacerbated during the winter low tides because there is less pressure coming from the waterward side to balance off the pressure on the landward side.
- Check for depressed soil and/or areas of water pooling behind the seawall on the landward side.
- Inspect your seawall for signs of wear, especially in areas that are usually submerged but become exposed during low tides.
When to Consult Professionals
If you notice any cracking, shifts in wall sections, or water pooling that you cannot easily drain, it may be time to consult with professionals. Many seawalls have hydrostatic pressure control systems installed. A qualified contractor can clean out your existing system or install a new one. Early intervention can save you from costly repairs down the line.
- Understanding the nature of winter tides is essential for proactive seawall maintenance.
- Earth’s distance from the sun affects tide levels during the winter, impacting your seawall in ways that might require attention.
- By performing initial checks and knowing when to seek professional help, you are investing in the longevity of your seawall, and by extension, your property.