Supermoon leads to king tides, potential tidal flooding

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – As the supermoon makes its closest pass to Earth in almost 70 years, many along the coast are already noticing the effects.

“Over the past couple of days, we are experiencing a king tide because of the occurrence of the supermoon,” said Caitlin Laubeck, a researcher with the UNC Institute of Marine Sciences.

A king tide refers to a time when the gravitational pull of the sun and moon line up and pull in the same direction. This causes extreme high and low tides several times a year. Because these extreme tides can cause flooding, researchers are keeping a close eye on the impacts.

“The water has been very high but luckily — I think that because we haven’t had a huge amount of rain in the past couple days — we don’t have that doubling up of problems like we sometimes do here in North Carolina,” said Laubeck.

That hasn’t been the case in places like Charleston, where flooding shut down several roads Monday morning. While a lack of rain has been a saving grace in the east this time, Lauback said that won’t always be the case.

“As the average high tide slowly increases over time, the king tide is representative of what that may be like into the future,” said Laubeck. “It’s the window into the future as sea level rises.”

She said she hopes to help communities prepare for a future with more tidal flooding.

King tides are expected to continue through Wednesday or Thursday.

The UNC Institute of Marine Sciences is looking for your help to document flooding from king tides. For more information, click here.

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