'Catch the King' Tide

Let's map how far it floods...

‘Catch the King’ is a citizen science GPS data collection effort centered in Hampton Roads, VA, that aims to map the king tide's maximum inundation extents with the goal of validating and improving predictive models for future forecasting of increasingly pervasive "nuisance" flooding. This year's event will focus on the King Tide taking place on the morning of Saturday, October 27, 2018, and will serve as the annually scheduled dress-rehearsal for a coordinated volunteer network to learn how to map the flood extent of an inundation event using the GPS on their mobile device in preparation for more significant floods caused by hurricanes, nor'easters, heavy rainfall, and wind tides.

Each year, prior to the king tide flood event, Dr. Loftis at the CCRFR designs a webmap to direct volunteers to public places that are forecasted to flood during the King Tide using VIMS' hydrodynamic models. Then, during the king tide, GPS data points are collected by many volunteers to effectively breadcrumb/trace the high water line. This approach is used each year to map flooding extents across 12 coastal cities and counties in Virginia by pressing the 'Save Data' button in the 'Sea Level Rise' App every few steps along the water's edge during annual king tides and during/after major storm events.

Map of Suggested Flood-Impact Sites for Citizen Science SLR App Data Collection

GPS high water mark data from Catch the King 2017 SLRiconforArcGIS and 2018 SLRiconforArcGISgreen.png appear on the embedded map below as aggregated colored dots to mark where volunteers have collected data during past king tide mapping events. This map is useful to illustrate useful mapping spots observed from past mapping events and to identify areas where there are gaps in previous years' observation efforts. Zoom in on the map to separate the aggregated points at each mapping site. 

View Full Screen Map in New Window

Response from Catch the King's dedicated volunteers in 2017, fueled by constant media coverage leading up to the event, caused 'Catch the King' to become the largest flood-related crowdsourcing data event in the world. Over 35 separate volunteer training events were held all over Hampton Roads resulting in 510 known participants collecting 53,006 time-stamped GPS maximum flooding extent measurements and 1,126 geotagged photographs of the king tide flooding during the 4-hour event. Click here for a map with an illustrative visual distribution of these statistics.

WHRO Public Media, lead media sponsor for Catch the King 2018, is stepping up promotion of the event as part of a year-round environmental education program for high school students. With a grant from the Hampton Roads Community Foundation and additional funding from the Batten Environmental Education Initiative, WHRO offers incentives to dozens of schools to join in its resilience education effort. Catch the King enables students to share in a project-based outdoor learning experience, utilizing smartphones in a way that’s educational and positive while contributing to a better understanding of the most central of challenges to Hampton Roads: sea level rise. Though this year’s focus will be on attracting more students, Catch the King organizers welcome all individuals and organizations to participate. For 2018, Catch the King is grateful for the support of tHRive, the young professionals of the Hampton Roads Chamber. This year’s Catch the King also welcomes the sponsorship of the Hampton Roads Sanitation District.

Catch the King also is made possible by the nonprofit groups, Wetlands Watch and Concursive Corp., creators and developers of the citizen-science Sea Level Rise app (iOS and Androidused in the event. Our science liaison is Dr. Derek Loftis of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, whose work is funded in part by the Commonwealth Center for Recurrent Flooding Resiliency. Our volunteer coordinator is Qaren Jacklich. The Dynamic Story Map below was developed in to recruit the event's many volunteers in 2018.

Dynamic Story Map


The 2017 Volunteer Recruitments Story Map was viewed >10,000 times prior to the king tide due to the gracious media support and coverage articles below along with help from our dedicated volunteers.

Catalogue of Media Coverage of "Catch the King":

  1. "Catch the King": A King Tide Mapping Event, November 2017
    Dave Mayfield, The Virginian-Pilot, and Derek Loftis, Commonwealth Center for Recurrent Flooding Resiliency, VIMS, W&M, Sep. 14, 2017

  2. VIMS Contributes to ‘King Tide’ Mapping Project
    David Malmquist, VIMS, Sep. 17, 2017
  3. An astronomical high tide will hit Hampton Roads on Nov. 5 -- will you help us Catch the King tide?
    Dave Mayfield, The Virginian-Pilot, Sep. 14, 2017
  4. King Tide: Help scientists 'Catch the King'
    Arrianee LeBeau, WVEC, Oct. 30, 2017
  5. Learn how to 'Catch the King' Tide
    Kate Mishkin, Daily Press, Sep. 26, 2017
  6. Why King Tides Are Flooding Coastal Cities More Often
    John Perritano, HowStuffWorks.com, Oct. 17, 2017
  7. Four newsrooms, 350 volunteers ready to engage Virginians on sea's rise
    Ashley McBride, Poynter, Oct. 17, 2017
  8. Catch the King Tide in Hampton Roads
    Belinda Elliott, WHRO Education, Sep. 26, 2017
  9. 'King Tide' mapping project
    David Malmquist, VIMS, Science Daily, Sep. 18, 2017
  10. Regional Flood Mapping Event Uses "Sea Level Rise" Phone App
    Skip Stiles, Wetlands Watch, Aug. 10, 2017
  11. What is the King Tide? Hampton Roads' highest astronomical tide of the year!
    Yasmeen Freightman, WVEC, Oct. 11, 2017
  12. Hampton Roads media, scientists are teaming up to understand tides. We need your help.
    The Virginian-Pilot; Daily Press, Sep. 14, 2017
  13. New App to Document King Tide Flooding in Hampton Roads
    Chesapeake Bay Magazine, Oct. 2, 2017
  14. Catching the King Tide in Hampton Roads
    The Virginian-Pilot Editorial Board, Oct. 15, 2017
  15. An astronomical high tide will hit Hampton Roads on Nov. 5 -- will you help us Catch the King tide?
    Dave Mayfield, The Virginian-Pilot, Sep. 14, 2017
  16. Will You "Catch the King"?
    Nicole Alvarado, Military News, Sep. 17, 2017
  17. A few questions and answers about Catch the King
    Dave Mayfield, The Virginian-Pilot, Sep. 14, 2017
  18. Volunteers Learn Tips, Tricks to Measure King Tide
    Kate Mishkin, Daily Press, Sep. 28, 2017
  19. Scientists Seek Citizen Help to Map Nov. 5 King Tide Sea Levels
    Laurie L. Dove Sep. 25, 2017
  20. "Catch the King" Tide Monitoring Event
    Lizz Gunnufsen, City of Chesapeake, Aug. 29, 2017
  21. Calling All Hampton Roads Residents to Help Catch the King Tide
    Daniel Kvaternik, City of Newport News, Sep. 29, 2017 
  22. “How are we going to pay for this?” agencies ask re: climate change costs?
    Wes Siler, Rapid Shift, Sep. 11, 2017
  23. King Tide volunteer sign-up ends Sunday
    Tamara Dietrich, Daily Press, Oct. 20, 2017
  24. Help Document Sea Level During King Tide Event Nov 4-6
    Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve, Oct. 22, 2017
  25. King Tide offers York County school real-world teaching opportunity
    Josh Reyes, Daily Press, Nov. 1, 2017
  26. Podcast: Women in the Military (King Tide Segment: 37:30 - 46:00): 
    Cathy Lewis, WHRO, HearSay with Cathy Lewis, Nov. 2, 2017
  27. Mild weather, flooded streets: Ideal conditions to Catch the King
    Dave Mayfield, The Virginian-Pilot, Nov. 3, 2017
  28. Hundreds of volunteers turn out to Catch the King tide
    Dave Mayfield, The Virginian-Pilot, Nov. 5, 2017
  29. Peninsula volunteers catch the king tide
    Tamara Dietrich, Daily Press, Nov. 5, 2017
  30. Four things we learned from tracing the king tide across Hampton Roads
    Dave Mayfield, The Virginian-Pilot, Nov. 7, 2017
  31. An App and Volunteer Army Are Improving Local Tidal Flood Forecasts
    Jessica Leber, News Deeply, Dec. 1, 2017

  32. Reporters, Scientists, and Citizens Team to Map Virginia’s Highest Tide
    Dawn Wright, ESRI Blog, Dec. 13, 2017
  33. An App is Improving Local Tidal Flood Forecasts
    Ocean Leadership, Dec. 8, 2017
  34. King Tide data shows Peninsula flooding in 50 years
    Tamara Dietrich, Daily Press, Jan. 23, 2018
  35. How Virginia Beach involves citizens in disaster preparedness
    Nurfilzah Rohaidi, Gov Insider, Feb. 1, 2018

  36. Podcast: King Tide (Segment: 28:00 - 46:30): 
    Cathy Lewis, WHRO, HearSay with Cathy Lewis, Feb. 1, 2018
  37. Are You Ready to “Catch the King?”
    Madeline Carey, WHRO, Aug. 1, 2018
  38. Hampton Roads is invited to 'Catch the King' ... again
    Tamara Dietrich, Daily Press, Aug. 31, 2018
  39. Reck on the Road: Catch The King
    Chris Reckling, WAVY TV10, Norfolk, Sep. 25, 2018
  40. Hampton Roads is invited to 'Catch the King' ... again
    The Virginian-Pilot Editorial Board, Sep. 28, 2018
  41. Hundreds to help map flooding at this year's Catch the King event

  42. Student installs tide gauges in Hampton for citizen scientists to help create 3D flood map
    Tamara Dietrich, Daily Press, Oct. 26, 2018
  43. It's time to Catch the King tide again
    Tamara Dietrich, for , Oct. 26, 2018
  44. Citizen scientists throughout Hampton Roads turn out to Catch the King

  45. Volunteers map the King Tide in Norfolk
    Steven Graves, WVEC, Oct. 27, 2017
  46. Mapping the King Tide
    Gloucester Mathews Gazette-Journal, Oct. 31, 2018

  47. More to come...
    See an article that should be included in this list? Please email it to me at jdloftis@vims.edu.