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1/23/2008

Moon and Weather Combine to Create Wild Tides

Breaking Earth News
Australia
Image:
Waves surge through Currumbin surf club car park with the high tide.

The Gold Coast is gearing up for a big Wednesday with large swells and king tides set to continue hitting the coastline. The wild conditions, caused by an UNUSUAL combination of moon and weather factors, had an impact yesterday as tides and wild surf caused sand erosion and the closure of many Gold Coast and northern NSW beaches. Yesterday morning, the king tide inundated the car park at the Currumbin Surf Life Saving Club, almost surrounding the building. On Currumbin beach, water reached the foreshore fenceline about 9am as lifeguards temporarily closed about half of the Gold Coast's beaches during the morning tidal surge. Surging swells engulfed the beaches reaching up to 3m by 8am and causing further erosion to escarpments that were already up to 3m high. The Seaway was one of the worst affected with sand cliffs reaching nearly 4m and lumpy swells making for dangerous, unpredictable beach conditions. Mermaid Beach was pummelled by the high tide, tearing down fences and forming severe erosion cliffs just metres from homes. Further south, what sand remained on Duranbah beach was quickly washed away by the tide. Lifeguards closed and reopened beaches throughout yesterday, basing their decisions on the amount of exposed sand on the beach. The UNUSUALLY high tides were brought about by two lunar factors causing what is known as a perigean spring tide. The full moon this month falls on the 22nd and usually around the full moon they get spring tides. What makes this tide particularly large this time around is that the proximity of the Earth to the moon is rather close. The point where the moon gets closest to Earth occurred on January 19th. The higher than usual tides were likely to continue into this week. The moon is wreaking havoc on the tides but weather events were largely responsible for the 2m waves which hit the Coast yesterday. Waves were likely to reach 3m today due to a weakened tropical cyclone off the coast of New Zealand and a low pressure system east of Tasmania."Not only will we have a big easterly swell but we'll have a fairly solid south swell. What it may do is create much more peaky conditions across the exposed beaches with a risk of larger rogue waves."
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