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The potential impact low tides have on Washington State Ferries

The tide is the lowest it has been in 13 years. Though it was a fun sight for beachgoers, it also affects some whose travel partially depends on those tides.

EDMONDS, Wash. — The view in Edmonds on Thursday brought crowds to the beach for the second day in a row.

“It is pretty intense,” said Brooke Roque, a parent who brought her son out to see the lowest tides in more than a decade.  

The low tide created a fun day for some, and a challenge for others.

“For state ferries, what that means is that some of our ramps on and off the boats get very, very steep as the tide goes down that low or up that high,” explained Ian Sterling, a spokesperson for Washington State Ferries.

It creates a problematic situation at several of Washington State Ferries’ docks, including in Edmonds. It means RVs, semi-trucks, and people towing trailers might face boarding restrictions during extreme low tide.

“If a recreational user comes along, they may actually get stopped at the toll booth and told, hey, you might want to wait a ferry or two or you can end up hung up on the ramp, and that's something we don't want to see of course,” Sterling said.

The impact is especially great at the ferry terminal in Edmonds because it carries the most freight out of any other route in the system.

“It affects other places as well, like in Bainbridge Island," Sterling said. 

During the low tides, passengers were loading through the car deck, instead of the overhead ramp because the ramp becomes too steep to walk on comfortably, Sterling said.

Washington State Ferries sends out alerts in advance letting commuters know how the tide will impact transportation.

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