By Craig Setzer

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The higher than normal high tides are being created by several factors.

Originally, they were called “Spring Tides” because a few times a year the sun, moon and Earth would line up just right to cause the tides to spring up.

But now the phenomenon is called “King tides,” probably because it sounds bigger, or somewhere someone thought King and Spring were close enough to slip in the more prominent sounding word.

Regardless, King Tide was usually reserved for when the moon was at its closest point to the Earth, and, at the same time, the astronomically high Spring Tides were occurring. Together, a higher than normal high tide was observed.

However, in this case, the Spring (or King) Tide is higher than normal because of a slight influence from massive Hurricane Lorenzo thousands of miles away.

The hurricane has a very large wind field and that energy is released into the ocean where enormous wind driven wave radiate outward and giant ocean swells. This energy will often cause slight rises in water levels great distances from a storm.

The other factor is the strong northeast wind we’ve seen since Sunday, helping to pile up water along the coast.  The wind acts to puts surface stresses on the top of the ocean pushing the water with it.

But in the northern hemisphere, the water moves a little bit to the right of the wind direction.  This effect, known by its scientific name of Ekman Transport, means the northeast wind pushes water from east to west, or from offshore to onshore.

This effect, combined with Lorenzo and the astronomically high tides, is creating the serious sunny day flooding.

Later this week, when winds drop, Lorenzo’s influence wanes and the sun, moon and earth shift their alignment, the tides will return to normal.

Craig Setzer

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