A rare blue supermoon could play a role in exacerbating the flooding effects of Hurricane Idalia which is heading towards Florida’s west coast.
Residents of Florida’s Gulf Coast have been warned of a risk of life-threatening storm surges and dangerous hurricane-force winds over the next two days as Idalia is expected to hit Florida’s northwestern coast as a Category 3 storm at around 6am local time on Wednesday.
The blue supermoon will also be closest to Earth on Wednesday night, making tides higher and flooding potentially worse, not only in Florida but in Georgia and South Carolina.
Known as a king tide, these higher tides are caused by the extra gravitational pull that occurs when the sun and moon align with Earth.
Brian Haines, the meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service office in Charleston, South Carolina, said: “I would say the timing is pretty bad for this one.”
He warned residents that some parts of Charleston could be underwater by Wednesday night.
Idalia strengthened to a Category 2 storm with 100mph (155 kph) winds on Tuesday as it barrelled toward Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Another deadly threat that Idalia poses is a surging wall of water 8ft (2.44m) to 15ft (4.5m) high that could flood low-lying areas along the coast, according to authorities.
Known as storm surges, these happen when high winds and atmospheric pressure from an oncoming hurricane force ocean water up onto land.