"Great American Eclipse" astronomical alignment could affect the - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

"Great American Eclipse" astronomical alignment could affect the ocean

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - On Monday August 21st, all eyes will be on the sky as the Great American Solar Eclipse passes overhead. This astronomical event could possibly impact our oceans as well.

The astronomical alignment of the sun, moon and earth means the gravitational forces of the sun and the moon will all be acting together to force the tides to be at their largest range, known as "Spring Tides."

This means the high tides will be at their highest and the low tides at their lowest on Monday August 21st through Wednesday August 23rd according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The data from NOAA predicts High tides during those days will be about one foot above average high tides.

This isn't anything new, since we see these spring tides about twice every month. 

Spring tides occur during the full moon and new moon phases, when the sun, moon and earth are aligned.

Seven days later, when the moon is at a right angle to earth, appearing as a half moon, we get what is known as a "Neap" tide.  

This is where the tidal range is moderated, and these occur twice a month as well. 

The alignment on August 21st is the exact set up for a new moon, where the moon is between the sun and earth. This is why we see the moon’s shadow or "the dark side of the moon"

In the end, the shadow of the moon falling directly over us doesn’t impact our tides. 

The eclipse only highlights the alignment of the sun, moon and earth.

However, the moon’s distance to earth is what can influence our tides even more, according to NASA.

As the moon moves towards its closest point in its orbit to earth, known as perigee, the moon is brighter in the sky and only about 222,000 miles away. At this point, it will pull on the earth’s water slightly more.

When a Supermoon occurs during a full moon, we get what is known as a “perigean spring tide,” NASA says.

This can add a few inches of water to the already higher than average spring tides.  

According to the National Weather Service, some low-lying areas can see flooding from these tides, but there are other factors on the height of tides. This includes the shape and length of the coastline, the angle of the sea bed and the ocean currents

Our next Perigean Spring Tide will occur on December 4th this year. 

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