King Tides, Explained

But what makes it a "king tide"?

The Sun, Moon and Earth align for Spring Tides, King Tides
The Sun, Moon and Earth align for Spring Tides, King Tides

Most people who live along the coast have heard the terms high tide and low tide. The tide rises and falls twice a day, as the moon orbits the rotating earth. But what does that mean? The gravitational pull between the earth, the moon, and even the sun causes tides.

The moon’s orbit of the earth  takes twenty four hours and 50 minutes, so high tides are generally about 12 hours and 25 minutes apart, leaving 6 hours and twelve-point-five minutes between high tide and low tide.

What you may not know is as the moon orbits the earth, its gravitational pull causes a bulge on the side of the earth that faces the moon. This high tide is a “direct tide”. There’s also a high tide on the opposite side of earth at the same time, called “an opposite tide.” Low tides occur on the sides of the earth at a 90 degree angle of the moon.

Tides are stronger during new and full moons. These are called “spring tides”

And the strongest spring tides of all are referred to as “king tides.” The scientific term is “perigean spring tides”. Those are the strongest predicted high and low tides of the year. That’s when the moon is at its closest point to earth in its slightly elliptical orbit.

The new moon on February 9th brings us this King Tide.

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