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By Shannon Schmoll
During the early hours of Jan. 31, there will be a full moon, a total lunar eclipse, a blue moon and a supermoon—all at the same time. None of these things is really all that unusual by itself. What is rare is that they're happening all together on one day.
What Makes the Moon Look Full?
Like the earth, half the moon is illuminated by the sun at any one time. The moon orbits around the earth and as a result we see different amounts of the lit-up side.
The November supermoon has gained attention around the world for its beauty, but is also bringing high water to flood-prone regions from South Florida to Maine.
The moon, which follows an elliptical orbit, is at its closest approach to the Earth since 1948. The full moon, in alignment with the Earth and sun, combines with the unusually close distance to create a strong gravitational pull.
In South Florida, where king tides routinely flood low-lying areas, the National Weather Service issued a coastal flood advisory through 4 p.m. Wednesday. The highest tides are expected for Tuesday and Wednesday. Coconut Grove already had six inches of water in the street by Sunday night.
Further up the coast, Jacksonville Beach and Saint Augustine began to flood yesterday as well. Weather.com meteorologist Chris Dolce warned that coastal areas in Georgia and South Carolina could be at risk.
Flooding in the Boston area is expected, where the highest tides will come on Tuesday around 11 a.m. Maine is on alert as well. Rain and easterly winds are forecast across the Northeast tomorrow, exacerbating the effects of the the moon and tides.
The sea level along coastal Massachusetts has risen four inches since 1950. Along South Florida, seas may rise 10 inches by 2030 from their 1992 levels. Flooding events in Miami Beach have jumped 400 percent in the past 10 years.
During October's king tides, Charleston, Savannah and Miami all experienced flooding. It has become routine for saltwater to invade homes and basements and parking garages in South Florida. Fish can be seen swimming in the streets during king tides. Roads get washed out.
During a campaign debate in October, Sen. Marco Rubio denied that climate change has anything to do with sea level rise or Florida's regular flooding events. Now re-elected for another six-year term, he has refused to meet with 15 Florida mayors who asked in January for a meeting to discuss the climate change risks they are facing.
Scientists expect the supermoon to make things even worse.
"That additional gravitational pull has caused our high tides to be a little bit higher than they would have been without that supermoon," said Dr. Tiffany Troxler, director of Florida International University's Sea Level Solutions Center, in an interview with CBS News.
Photographs of the supermoon have been posted since last night as skywatchers enjoy the show. The next time the moon gets this close will be in 2034.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Kelly Kizer Whitt, SIERRA Magazine
The full moon in November will be super-sized, the largest of 2016. "Supermoon" is a recently coined term for when the moon is full and at perigee—its closest point to the earth in its elliptical orbit. Perigee will take place on Nov. 14 when the moon passes about 356,000 km from our planet. The full moon peaks less than three hours later, wowing viewers and causing larger than normal tides along the coast.
Three minor meteor showers, the South Taurids, North Taurids and Leonids, occur in November. If you're a night owl, you may spot some fireballs around midnight between Nov. 4 and 5 from the South Taurids, and some slow-moving bright meteors around midnight on Nov. 11 and 12 from the North Taurids. The Leonid meteor shower is better for early birds who are up an hour or more before sunrise on Nov. 17.
A Canopy of Stars
We'll all feel like night owls once the clock changes back to Standard Time on Nov. 6. For many in the U.S., the sun will set before 5 p.m. Let's face it: the long hours of darkness can be gloomy. But instead of hiding under the covers, bundle up and step outside to look at the brilliant sky of late fall. The crisp air will revive you, as will the clear view of stars more than a thousand light-years away. Look to the northeast to see the Capella star flashing and flaming. This vibrant beacon is a mere 42 light-years away.
Planets on the Move
In the beginning of November, Venus mingles brightly with Saturn in the southwestern sky. A crescent moon will pass the two planets from Nov. 1 to 3 and then scoot to the south, passing in the vicinity of Mars on Nov. 5. By mid-month, Saturn will drop lower in the horizon, crossing paths with Mercury around Nov. 25. Mercury will be rising away from the sun as Saturn sinks. On the last day of November, the crescent moon pops back into view in the west not far from Mercury.
Reposted with permission from our media associate SIERRA Magazine.