Science: Danger from the Tides

If there are severe storms in either the Atlantic or Pacific oceans around Jan. 8, Americans living in coastal areas may well be hit by bad floods. This unusual warning was sounded last week by federal scientists. Why Jan. 8? Because of a relatively rare combination of circumstances, tides will be abnormally high around that time. Although the tides alone will not cause flooding, strong, persistent onshore winds accompanying a coastal storm would pile the water even higher, spilling it into low-lying areas.

Tides are caused largely by the gravitational tug of the moon, which daily...

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