Turnagain Arm bore tides have been turning out lots of photographers this year -- just ask John Gomes.
Gomes, a photographer for the Alaska Zoo, heard a rumor that a bore tide was expected in Turnagain Arm on Monday night. He jumped in his car loaded with photography gear and parked at Bird Point.
When the bore tide arrived, at 6:19 p.m., he shot spectacular video of surfers riding the waves. Mountains can be seen in the background as the water, moving as fast as 10 to 15 mph, heads ashore.
“It was a great bore tide for me,” Gomes said, “This is only the second one I’ve seen -- I was impressed.”
Bore tides are a rare but powerful tidal phenomenon found in dozens of locations around the world -- including Turnagain Arm -- where the force of an incoming tide drives water against an existing body of water’s prevailing currents.
The phenomenon occasionally makes the news in Alaska, including the dramatic Beluga Point rescue in 2010 of a man overwhelmed by a bore tide, as well as a Channel 2 profile last year of bore-tide surfers who use it to catch some long-lasting waves.
While many rivers in Europe exhibit bore-tide behavior, Turnagain Arm is the only U.S. location where bore tides regularly occur.
This has been a spectacular week for fans of bore-tide watching. Channel 2’s Mike Ross shot video of a bore tide Saturday night from Turnagain Arm between Beluga Point and Bird Point. In Alaska, the phenomenon can generate waves as high as 10 feet tall.
The Alaska Department of Natural Resources maintains a schedule of bore tides (PDF), with probable dates for a strong tide listed.
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