Supermoon Could Intensify Hurricane Idalia’s Storm Surge
The Gibbous Moon, currently in its crescent phase, shines brightly with 96% of its surface illuminated by the Sun on August 29, 2023 in Catania, Italy. Tomorrow, it will achieve full illumination at 100%, earning the title of the so-called 'blue supermoon'.
(Photo by Fabrizio Villa/Getty Images)

Storm surge from Hurricane Idalia could get a boost from an imminent supermoon as the tropical system rolls toward Florida this week.

CNN meteorologist Chad Myers explained what to expect during a segment less than 24 hours before Idalia is predicted to make landfall somewhere over Florida’s Big Bend region between Panama City and Tampa on Wednesday.

“Right now, today and tonight, the moon is 18,000 miles closer than normal because the moon’s orbit isn’t a circle. It’s kind of a big egg,” Myers told anchor Jake Tapper. “So because it’s closer, you get about a 5% higher pull because it’s 5% closer than normal.”

That stronger gravitational pull “is going to raise any of these storm surges that would have been — let’s say 14 feet — would make it 15 feet,” Myers added, figures which match the high-end of the National Hurricane Center’s forecast for water height above ground in some areas of Florida.

“You’re going to see these tides worldwide higher than normal,” he continued, “but it affects obviously this storm because as you push water onshore, if the tide’s going to be higher, you have to add that surge to the tide, and that’s what we’re going to see tonight.”

The moon will not just be a supermoon on Wednesday night, but a rare blue supermoon. Blue in this instance is not a reference to the color, but rather an indicator that it is the second full moon in a single month. There will not be another blue supermoon until 2037, according to NASA.


As for right now, Brian Haines, the meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service office in Charleston, South Carolina, was quoted by the Associated Press saying, “I would say the timing is pretty bad for this one.”

A low tide will take place in the morning on Wednesday in the Big Bend area followed by a high tide during midday, which a post by noted could be important depending on when Idalia actually makes landfall.

Idalia, which strengthened into a hurricane early on Tuesday, has already drenched Havana, Cuba, and has been intensifying as it moves over the warm waters of the Gulf Coast toward Florida. It reached Category 2 strength in the afternoon and is expected to intensify into a major Category 3 storm by Wednesday.

Heavy rain, flooding, strong winds, and even tornados could affect Florida, as well as neighboring states in the coming days. And there will be storm surge, which prompted Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to warn residents to seek refuge if they are in and around the Big Bend area — mentioning Cedar Key in particular — where myriad evacuation orders have been given.

“Storm surge is something — you’re not going to win that battle if you decide to stay behind for that,” DeSantis said during a briefing. “You run away from the water and then you hide from the wind.”

The outer bands of the storm are already sweeping through parts of Florida. In fact, the streets of Fort Myers were already flooding on Tuesday.

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