How tonight’s Super Blue Moon could make Hurricane Idalia even worse

This article originally appeared on The Daily Mail
Written By: Shivali Best

Tonight, skygazers around the world will be treated to a rare astronomical phenonmenon in the form of a Super Blue Moon. 

The event will mark the point at which the moon is the biggest and brightest it’s been all year. 

However, experts have warned that it could have dangerous repercussions here on Earth. 

The supermoon could raise tides above normal – just as Hurricane Idalia takes aim at Florida’s west coast. 

‘I would say the timing is pretty bad for this one,’ said Brian Haines, the meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service office in Charleston, South Carolina. 

The moon will be closest to the Earth at 21:35pm ET tonight – the same day Idalia is expected to make landfall in Florida. 

While a supermoon can make for a spectacular backdrop in photos of landmarks around the world, its intensified gravitational pull also makes tides higher.

It’s expected to make tidal flooding worse not only in Florida, but in states such as Georgia and South Carolina, where Haines’ office has been warning residents that parts of Charleston could be underwater by Wednesday night.

When the moon is full, the sun and the moon are pulling in the same direction, which has the effect of increasing tides above normal ranges, according to Kerry Emanuel, professor emeritus of atmospheric science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The moon’s gravitational pulls are even stronger when it’s closer to Earth, so the tides are even higher.

The storm surge is often the greatest killer when hurricanes strike. 

The ocean water pouring onto land could be up to 15 feet (4.6 metres) along parts of Florida’s west coast, the National Hurricane Centre projected in its latest briefings yesterday. 

Further south, up to seven feet (2.1 metres) of storm surge is expected in the Tampa Bay area.

Storm surge that can be taller than a person is a concern with any major hurricane. 

The tides and the influence of a supermoon can increase that somewhat.

‘There’s a saying that you hide from the wind and run from the water, and hopefully people are heeding that advice,’ said Brian Tang, associate professor of atmospheric science at University at Albany in New York.

The part of northwest Florida that could be hit by Idalia is especially vulnerable to storm surge because of the region’s geography. 

The continental shelf extends so far out from the coast and has a gradual slope, allowing the ocean to grow higher as hurricane winds drive the water onto land, Tang said. 

In South Carolina, there’s concern that Idalia’s path will take it near the historic city of Charleston and the surrounding area known as the Low Country. 

That would add water to the high tide that´s in the forecast, Haines said.

‘Wednesday evening looks really nasty for coastal flooding here,’ he said.

The weather service is forecasting an 8.2-foot (2.5 metre) tide in Charleston Wednesday evening, which could produce widespread flooding in downtown Charleston, Haines said. 

Even with a 7.5 foot tide (2.3 metres), some roads in the city flood and become impassible, he said.

This article originally appeared on The Daily Mail
Written By: Shivali Best

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