Catch the King Mappers
Mappers Page Evans (standing) and Bonita Russell enjoy a ‘fruit punch’ after mapping high tide on tropical Colonial Beach.

As sea-level rise accelerates, predicting flooding is becoming more important.

During November, volunteers organized by the Northern Neck Master Gardeners’ Shoreline Evaluation Program (SEP) were out in the weather collecting tidal data around the Northern Neck to help predict flooding events. They were trying to Catch the King.

The Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) developed a mathematical model to predict flooding around Chesapeake Bay based on location and the key factors that influence tidal movement. The model is designed to provide local authorities with advance warning of potential flooding events so they may take appropriate action.

To refine their models, the VIMS scientists need on the ground data to confirm their predictions. The Northern Neck tidal mapping volunteers jumped into action during the fall season’s exceptionally high king tides.

Using their cell phone’s GPS and a free downloadable app, volunteers walked along the edge of high tide and transmitted tidal location information to a data gathering system. The VIMS scientists then use the on-the-ground data gathered by the volunteers to compare their predictions and refine their models. This data is critical to refining the validity of the models.

Catch the King Mappers
Chilly Rappahannock River mappers near White Stone from left to right, Jim Dullea, Cindy Dullea, Virginia Ramadan, and Walid Ramadan.

The Catch the King mapping program was launched in 2017 in the Hampton Roads area and has taken off around Virginia’s tidal estuary. Data gathering events on the Northern Neck were first organized by SEP in 2019. The first event was at Hughlett Point beach and now involves mapping events in all Northern Neck counties from Windmill Point to Colonial Beach.

Catch the King is a fun educational activity, and anyone with a cell phone and the app is invited to participate. This fall and in 2020, mapping was constrained by Covid-19 considerations. Organizers are looking forward to fall 2022 when (we hope) Covid-19 will be in our rear-view mirror, and many more volunteers can participate.

Those interested in becoming a mapper next year can express their interest by sending their name and e-mail contact information to



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