Weather: A Rare Cosmic Dance

A Rare Cosmic Dance

In the East, angry tides, as high as 8 ft. above normal, surged along Atlantic beaches from the Carolinas to New England, destroying boardwalks and hammering homes. In the West, the highest tides in 20 years briefly closed part of the Pacific Coast Highway. To some, last week the fierce and freakish weather at both ends of the country seemed more than a mere coincidence. And it was.

Meteorologists attributed the abnormally high tides to an unusual cosmic dance. The combination of factors included syzygy (pronounced syz-uhjee), a twice-monthly condition in which the earth, sun and moon are most closely in...

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