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Subject: Hurricanes and the Full Moon Effect
(Posted on Nov 4, 2012 at 09:45AM by Media Manager)

Hurricanes and the Full Moon Effect

During a full moon, the sun, Earth, and the moon are arrayed in a straight line, intensifying their gravitational effects on the planet.


A diagram showing the location of the Earth, the sun, and the moon during a ''spring tide.''

Sun, Earth, and Moon Aligned During Full Moon

Diagram courtesy NOAA

"Both the sun and moon are tugging on Earth," said Rick Luettich, Director of the University of North Carolina Institute for Marine Sciences.

This pull can cause a bulge in the ocean that makes high tides a little higher than at other times of month. These tides are known as "spring" tides, so-called because high tides spring up higher than usual.

(Get our tips on hurricane preparedness.)

(Watch hurricane videos.)

The jet stream is also doing its part.

This upper-level air current usually flows from west to east but occasionally changes direction. A freak development can cause the stream to shift so that it's flowing from the southeast to the northwest.

Joey Picca, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service Forecast Office in New York City, said this unusual jet stream configuration could help fuel Hurricanes.

The jet stream creates a vacuum above these storms, and, Picca said, "the air has to go somewhere to fill that space." By drawing a hurricanes  air upward, the stream is helping to maintain the structure and circulation of a hurricane and even allowing it to strengthen.


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