RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Over the weekend we were flooded with images of water and waves taking over roads and beaches along the Outer Banks, other North Carolina coastal areas and parts of coastal South Carolina.
While this was caused partially due to a storm off the coast, that was in fact only part of the problem.
You may have heard of something called a king tide. A king tide is a higher-than-normal tide that happens when the Earth, sun and moon are essentially in alignment.
These king tides happen roughly twice a month, but we only seem to hear about them when they are especially high, like this weekend.
So what happened this weekend? This weekend the moon was coming off its new phase, which can lead to high tides anyway, but it was also at its closest point to Earth.
When you have a new (or even a full) moon closest to Earth, its gravitational pull is at its strongest, so tides can be a foot or more above than normal.
Our high tides were already higher than normal, but then add in a strong storm system off the coast causing rough surf, strong winds, and heavy rain — and it led to a messy situation for the Outer Banks, the North Carolina coast and even coastal South Carolina.
Fortunately, the tides are starting to get back to normal and the storm is pulling away, but this rising water is something we may have to get used to. There is research that shows the high water we deal with during these king tides may be an indicator of how high the water will eventually become due to climate change and sea-level rise.
The next king tide event for the outer banks is expected the weekend of December 4 when once again the new moon will be closest to Earth.