The following is a sampling of historic and recent flood levels to help put tidal predictions and observations in context. See real-time and archived tide levels at the Bayside Center (500 block of Bay Avenue in Ocean City). Add 2.06 feet to convert the NAVD88 readings to mean low water (MLW). See forecasts for tide levels in the coming days.
SUPERSTORM SANDY (10/29/2012)
9.31 feet MLW
(7.25 feet NAVD1988)
Hybrid Cat. 1 hurricane/winter storm makes landfall 12 miles north of Ocean City on a full-moon tide. 6.72 inches of rain measured in Beesley's Point. Top Ocean City wind gust: 70.2 mph. But calm winds in eye of storm spare Ocean City during the highest tide.
1944 HURRICANE (9/15/1944)
8.71 feet MLW
(6.65 feet NAVD1988)
Cat. 2 hurricane destroys Jersey Shore on way to landfall in Long Island.
STORM OF '62 (March 6 to 8, 1962)
8.41 feet MLW
(6.35 feet NAVD1988)
Three-day nor'easter batters Ocean City with 25-foot seas and 80+ mph winds.
DECEMBER '92 NOR'EASTER (12/11/1992)
8.29 feet MLW
(6.23 feet NAVD1988)
Slow-moving nor'easter with 80 mph winds causes the most flooding since the Storm of '62.
'THE PERFECT STORM' (10/31/1991)
8.06 feet MLW
(6 feet NAVD1988)
Author Sebastian Junger dubbed the merger of Hurricane Grace and a massive nor'easter "The Perfect Storm." It destroyed parts of the boardwalk in Ocean City.
HURRICANE GLORIA (9/27/1985)
7.81 feet MLW
(5.75 feet NAVD1988)
Cat. 1 hurricane hits the Outer Banks then Long Island.
JANUARY 2016 NOR'EASTER: "JONAS" (1/23/2016)
7.66 feet MLW
(5.69 feet NAVD1988)
Powerful coastal storm coincides with full moon. Winds top out at 66 mph. The 8.46 tide was followed by two more at 7.7 feet and 7.34 feet. Storm erodes newly replenished beaches at Ocean City's northern end.
NOVEMBER 2009 NOR'EASTER (Nov. 11-14, 2009)
7.31 feet MLW
(5.25 feet NAVD1988)
Three-day nor'easter levels dunes at the north end of the island.
MAJOR FLOODING THRESHOLD: 7.3 FEET
OCTOBER 2018 NOR'EASTER (OCT. 27, 2018)
7.25 feet MLW
(5.19 feet NAVD1988)
A coastal storm fueled by the remnants of a Pacific Ocean hurricane brings less than a day of strong onshore winds and the worst flooding in Ocean City since Jonas in January 2016. Northeast winds gusting up to 55 mph blew for several hours immediately prior to high tide.
NEW MOON STORM TIDES (Sept. 8-10, 2018)
6.9 feet MLW
(4.84 feet NAVD1988)
A non-tropical storm system with steady northeast winds and heavy rain coincides with new moon tides. Tide levels peak at 5.96 feet (Sept. 8), 6.9 feet (Sept. 9) and 6.34 feet (Sept. 10).
SUPER BOWL FLOOD 2016 (Feb. 8, 2016)
6.73 feet MLW
(4.67 feet NAVD1988)
Ocean City wakes up after Super Bowl 50 to flooding that came with no warning from the National Weather Service.
MARCH 2017 COASTAL STORM (March 14, 2017)
6.67 feet MLW
(4.61 feet NAVD1988)
Heavy rain falls two days after a full moon as a fast-moving coastal storm brings northeast winds with gusts up to 50 mph.
OCTOBER 2019 GALE (October 9-12, 2019)
6.64 feet MLW
(4.58 feet NAVD1988)
A distant but stalled coastal storm generates a week of strong north/northeast winds but no rain. High tides flood streets over the course of four days, including Oct. 9 (5.85 feet MLW), Oct. 10 (6.53 feet MLW), Oct. 11 (6.29 and later 6.64 feet MLW) and Oct. 12 (5.88 feet MLW).
OCTOBER 2015 STORM (October 2, 2015)
6.64 feet MLW
(4.58 feet NAVD1988)
Northeast gale pushes water into the back bays over the course of several days. Five high-tide cycles flood streets.
DECEMBER 2014 NOR'EASTER (Dec. 9, 2014)
6.58 feet MLW
(4.52 feet NAVD1988)
Flooding from winter nor'easter closes Ocean City schools -- but heavy overnight rain stops before morning high tide.
HURRICANE JOSE (Sept. 19, 2017)
6.57 feet MLW
(4.51 feet NAVD1988)
A hurricane passes a few hundred miles east Ocean City, but big waves and onshore flow coincide with a new moon.
JANUARY 2017 COASTAL STORM (Jan. 23, 2017)
6.51 feet MLW
(4.45 feet NAVD1988)
Heavy rain and powerful northeast winds combine.
APRIL 2018 NEW MOON AND THUNDERSTORMS (April 16, 2018)
6.37 feet MLW
(4.31 feet NAVD1988)
A new moon tide combines with extremely heavy rain from a line of storms and a couple days of strong onshore wind to create the highest tide of spring 2018.
MARCH 2018 'BOMB CYCLONE' (March 2-4, 2018)
6.33 feet MLW
(4.27 feet NAVD1988)
A winter storm featuring rapidly dropping barometric pressure (bombogenesis) forms off the coast to the north of Ocean City. Despite strong offshore (northwesterly) winds, successive tide levels increase as the storm moves slowly away in clear and dry weather.
HALLOWEEN EVE FULL MOON STORM (Oct. 30, 2020)
6.3 feet MLW
(4.24 feet NAVD1988)
More than 3 inches of rain, strong onshore winds and full moon tides combine to cause moderate flooding.
MODERATE FLOODING THRESHOLD: 6.3 FEET
DECEMBER 2020 WINTER STORM (December 16-17, 2020)
6.21 feet MLW
(4.15 feet NAVD1988)
A storm that brought heavy snow to inland areas caused flooding that approached moderate levels in Ocean City. The NWS predicted a Dec. 16 tide of 5.6 feet, but northeast winds gusting up to 52 mph and heavy rain led to water levels of 6.21 feet. The predictions for Dec. 17 ranged from 6.6 feet to 7 feet, but the water level reached only 5.93 feet -- with the storm's effects coming earlier than predicted and a shift to strong westerly winds helping to limit the severity of flooding.
OCTOBER 29, 2019 FLOODING (Oct. 29, 2019)
6.14 feet MLW
(4.08 feet NAVD1988)
On the seventh anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, steady northeast winds, light rain and a new moon combine to flood streets for the second time in a month. With the regular new moon tide predicted at 5.06 feet, the sustained winds (even though not exceptionally strong) add more than a foot of surge.
JANUARY 2018 SUPER MOON (Jan. 30, 2018)
6.12 feet MLW
(4.06 feet NAVD1988)
An approaching full moon (a "super moon" in the cycle) coincides with some steady northeast winds to cause street flooding.
JANUARY 2018 BLIZZARD (Jan. 4, 2018)
6.1 feet MLW
(4.04 feet NAVD1988)
Powerful and fast-moving coastal storm ("Grayson") dumps 18 inches of snow on Ocean City. Winds top out at 44 mph but shift offshore after a briefly blowing out of the northeast.
NOVEMBER 2019 FLOODING (Nov. 17-18, 2019)
6.07 feet MLW
(4.01 feet NAVD1988)
With astronomical tide predictions below 4 feet MLW, the NWS predicts water levels as high as 7.1 feet MLW based on steady northeast winds gusting over 40 mph. The highest of two days of predicted flood tides comes in at 6.07 feet MLW.
OCTOBER 2019 FLOODING (Oct. 3, 2019)
5.98 feet MLW
(3.58 feet NAVD1988)
With regular tides predicted at 4.51 feet MLW and no storm nearby, steady east winds of 20 mph help cause a water level of 5.98 feet MLW.
SEPTEMBER 2020 FLOODING (Sept. 18-21, 2020)
5.82 feet MLW
(3.76 feet NAVD1988)
A new moon and several days of steady northeast winds, cause minor flooding despite sunny weather. Tide levels peaked at 5.54 feet (Sept. 18), 5.82 feet (Sept. 19), 5.46 feet (Sept. 20), and 5.8 feet (Sept. 21).
MAY 2019 FLOODING (May 5, 2019)
5.76 feet MLW
(3.70 feet NAVD1988)
Rain and steady north winds coincide with a new moon.
HURRICANE DORIAN (Sept. 6, 2019)
5.64 feet MLW
(3.58 feet NAVD1988)
After slamming the Bahamas and the Carolinas, Hurricane Dorian turns toward the open water of the Atlantic as it passes Ocean City. The outer bands of wind generate rough surf and cause minor tidal flooding. Astronomical high tides were relatively low at the time.
MINOR FLOODING THRESHOLD: 5.3 FEET
APRIL 2017 FLOODING (April 6, 2017)
5.1 feet MLW
(3.04 feet NAVD1988)
Merging storm systems create strong onshore winds and minor street flooding.
JULY 2016 THUNDERSTORM (July 5, 2016)
4.98 feet MLW
(2.92 feet NAVD1988)
Fourth of July celebrators wake up to a thunderstorm with heavy rain and a rising new-moon tide. Even though tides did not reach minor flooding threshold, rainwater did not drain from streets.
TYPICAL HIGH TIDE IN OCEAN CITY
3 to 5 feet MLW
(0.23 to 2.23 feet NAVD1988)
With no contributing factors other than the normal astronomical tide cycle, high tide levels range from about 3 feet to 5 feet. The highest predicted tides coincide with full or new moons.