Storm-driven king tides put Marshalls on alert

10:31 am on 9 March 2016

People in the Marshall Islands are being warned of flooding due to very high tides combined with a storm brewing in the area.

The National Weather Service on Guam has issued a warning of possible inundation this week in Majuro.

The storm, which is expected to move across the Marshall Islands this week with near-galeforce winds, is kicking up heavy ocean swells that are expected to raise the risk of ocean flooding of low-lying areas in the capital.

A high tide across Ejit Island in Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands on March 3, 2014, causing widespread flooding. Officials in the Marshall Islands blamed climate change for severe flooding in the Pacific nation's capital Majuro.

Flooding during high tides in 2014 Photo: AFP

High tide today at 4.39pm local time is anticipated to be the highest of the year.

Historically, February and March bring the highest king tides annually in the Marshall Islands.

They have caused inundation at the lowest points on the atolls that are little more than a metre above the high tide mark.

Flooding could last until Friday

The Guam Weather Service said coastal inundation was possible along north-facing shores of Ejit and northern Darrit and inside the lagoon through to Friday morning, after which the high tide cycle would dissipate.

The storm that was developing north of Wake Island and was moving towards the Marshall Islands increased the possibility of ocean inundation.

High tides in Kili Island, Marshall Islands, February 2015.

High tides in February 2015 Photo: Kili/Bikini/Ejit Local Government Marshall Islands

The Weather Service notice urged local residents to "take action to protect crops and properties and stay away from flooded areas along north facing shores".

The warning comes on the 70th anniversary this week of the Bikini Islanders' evacuation from their home atoll for the start of nuclear weapons testing in 1946.

Ejit Island, which hosts a community of several hundred displaced Bikini Islanders, was flooded with ocean water a year ago in similar king tides.

The Bikini community marked the 70th anniversary this week of its evacuation by the US Navy on 7 March 1946, for the start of nuclear weapons testing.