A rare Blue Supermoon event coincides with the landfall of Hurricane Idalia on the western coast of Florida. This unique combination has the potential to elevate tides beyond their usual levels, worsening flooding from the storm as the moon reaches its closest point to Earth. The hurricane, characterized as “unprecedented,” struck Keaton Beach in the sparsely populated Big Bend area of Florida with sustained winds of approximately 125 mph. The distinctive occurrence of the Blue Supermoon could amplify gravitational forces, leading to higher tides. Brian Haines, Chief Meteorologist at the National Weather Service in South Carolina, remarked that “The timing for this event is quite unfavorable.”
Consequently, the impact of tidal flooding is expected to extend not only to Florida but also to neighboring states like Georgia and South Carolina. During a full moon, the combined gravitational pull of the sun and the moon aligns, resulting in increased tidal levels, as explained by Kerry Emanuel, Professor Emeritus of Atmospheric Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
As the moon moves closer to Earth, its gravitational influence strengthens, resulting in even higher tides. The National Hurricane Center’s projection estimates potential ocean surges of up to 15 feet along certain parts of Florida’s western coastline. In the southern Tampa Bay region, a forecast suggests an expected storm surge of up to 7 feet.
Brian Tang, Associate Professor of Atmospheric Science at the University at Albany in New York, emphasized, “A common saying advises seeking shelter from the wind and escaping from rising water, and one can only hope individuals are heeding this counsel.” He cautioned about the vulnerability of the northwestern part of Florida where Idalia made landfall due to its geographical susceptibility to storm surges.