King Tides: The tidal phenomenon that could make Dorian's impact even worse

Article Image

CNN's Jennifer Gray explains how each hurricane is named and the history behind the naming of hurricanes.

Posted: Aug 30, 2019 6:30 AM
Updated: Aug 30, 2019 6:30 AM

Hurricane Dorian is gaining strength and could be a Category 3 storm by the time it approaches Florida's Atlantic coast over the Labor Day weekend. But there's another phenomenon that could contribute to Dorian's destruction.

READ MORE: The latest updates on Hurricane Dorian

Friday marks the beginning of Florida's King Tides, a term that refers to the highest tides in any given period. These high tides follow a cycle — after all, tides are caused by the moon and follow a predictable pattern. King Tides, sometimes called Spring Tides, typically appear in the spring and fall. (Though the term "Spring Tides" refers to spring as in the action, not the season).

However, this latest round of King Tides in Florida will be strengthened by a dangerous alignment of factors: One, the moon will be especially close to the earth, an event called "perigee." (Remember, the moon orbits the Earth in an elliptical pattern, so its distance isn't always the same.) Two, fall tides in Florida are generally the highest of the year because the water is at its warmest point.

"The sun has baked the ocean all summer in the tropics and the ocean literally expands," says CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller.

A dangerous 'perfect storm'

All of these things will combine to make one massive high tide event, and with Dorian's approach, things could get seriously dangerous.

"The hurricane will feed off this warm water and get stronger, and then the winds will push all of the water, building the water levels even higher and pushing them onshore," Miller says.

In other words, the two events will feed into each other, possibly contributing to significantly more dangerous storm surges.

"The fact that this storm is hitting during some of the highest tides of the year is very concerning," Miller says. "The King Tides adding a couple of feet to the water height is almost like the storm being a category higher on scale."

We've already learned that we can't control the weather and while trying to sensationalize Dorian's possible impact won't help either, it's important to know exactly what those in Dorian's path may be facing.

Something like the King Tides could mean those who would typically see themselves as far enough away from the storm's threat could, in fact, be in danger. Miller recommends those in Dorian's path star as far inland and at as high an elevation as possible.

When all is said and done, the best thing for those affected to do is listen to national and local weather authorities, and get out of the area if need be.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 32437

Reported Deaths: 2030
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9371546
Lake3347170
Cass15867
Allen135366
St. Joseph121834
Hendricks113567
Hamilton112391
Johnson1092104
Elkhart107028
Madison58259
Porter49521
Bartholomew48634
Clark47141
LaPorte41523
Tippecanoe3803
Howard37620
Jackson3681
Delaware35936
Hancock32327
Shelby32121
Floyd31539
Boone29335
Morgan27024
Vanderburgh2532
Montgomery23317
White2288
Decatur22431
Clinton2221
Grant19521
Noble19221
Harrison18821
Dubois1852
Henry1709
Greene16824
Warrick16528
Dearborn16421
Monroe16211
Vigo1507
Lawrence14623
Miami1391
Putnam1347
Jennings1284
Orange12422
Scott1183
Ripley1136
Franklin1068
Kosciusko971
Carroll932
Daviess8416
Marshall801
Steuben802
Wayne755
Newton7410
Wabash732
Fayette714
Jasper621
LaGrange622
Washington521
Fulton471
Jay460
Randolph453
Rush452
Jefferson421
Whitley412
Clay411
Pulaski400
Owen341
Sullivan331
DeKalb331
Brown331
Starke313
Perry260
Wells260
Huntington262
Knox250
Benton250
Tipton241
Crawford230
Blackford202
Switzerland190
Fountain182
Parke180
Spencer171
Posey160
Gibson142
Ohio130
Warren121
Adams121
Vermillion100
Martin90
Union80
Pike60
Unassigned0159

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 114306

Reported Deaths: 5083
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook745213455
Lake7845270
DuPage7350347
Kane5947162
Will5279264
Winnebago200152
McHenry147569
St. Clair103573
Kankakee80843
Kendall73619
Rock Island63823
Champaign5807
Madison54457
Boone41016
Sangamon33727
DeKalb3343
Randolph2644
Jackson24210
McLean21513
Out of IL2051
Stephenson1942
Ogle1932
Macon18919
Peoria1888
Clinton17817
Union1437
LaSalle14013
Whiteside13410
Iroquois1314
Coles11912
Warren1130
Unassigned1100
Jefferson10116
Knox940
Monroe9311
Grundy882
McDonough837
Lee761
Tazewell693
Cass680
Henry670
Williamson572
Marion500
Jasper457
Adams441
Macoupin431
Perry410
Pulaski410
Montgomery391
Vermilion371
Morgan341
Christian334
Jo Daviess310
Livingston312
Douglas260
Fayette203
Ford201
Jersey201
Washington180
Woodford182
Mason170
Menard170
Mercer160
Shelby161
Bureau151
Hancock150
Carroll142
Franklin120
Piatt120
Schuyler120
Crawford110
Fulton110
Bond101
Brown100
Clark100
Cumberland100
Logan100
Moultrie100
Wayne91
Alexander80
Henderson80
Johnson70
Massac70
Saline70
Effingham61
Greene50
Marshall50
De Witt40
Lawrence40
Richland30
Stark30
Clay20
Edwards20
Gallatin20
Hamilton20
Wabash20
White20
Calhoun10
Hardin10
Pike10
Pope10
Putnam10
Edgar00
Terre Haute
Scattered Clouds
72° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 72°
Robinson
Broken Clouds
69° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 69°
Indianapolis
Broken Clouds
68° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 68°
Rockville
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 66°
Casey
Scattered Clouds
72° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 72°
Brazil
Scattered Clouds
72° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 72°
Marshall
Scattered Clouds
72° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 72°
Cold Front Approaching
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events