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Tides rose and beaches flooded as Outer Banks endured combined equinox and supermoon

Supermoon caused higher than average tides at Old Drum Inlet

The moon was at a point in its orbit that it was closest to the Earth. Old Drum Inlet saw high tides that caused overwash and could affect traveling along the shore.
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The moon was at a point in its orbit that it was closest to the Earth. Old Drum Inlet saw high tides that caused overwash and could affect traveling along the shore.

The spring equinox and a supermoon combined this week to play havoc with North Carolina’s fragile Outer Banks barrier islands.

Cape Lookout National Seashore posted video Thursday showing ocean “overwash” rolling over the typically wide beaches up to the edges of dunes.

The video, which has been viewed 6,000 times as of Friday afternoon, came with a warning that some roads in the national park could not be traveled.

“Coastal storm over the vernal equinox, along with a full moon...is creating higher tides on ocean beaches...This short clip is of Old Drum Inlet today (3/21/2019), as the winds push the tide across the beach,” a Facebook message from the park said.

“Once things settle down again, you should be able to reach Middle Core with a vehicle. Of course, this will depend on what the ocean has done to the old inlet area and how long it takes for it to settle.”

On Friday, the National Park Service posted a follow up on Facebook, noting the passenger ferry to the Shackleford Banks and lighthouse was not running due to continued high winds.

The higher than normal high tides are blamed on a one-two punch of celestial events.

First came the vernal equinox, marking the first day of spring and the moment when the sun crosses the equator, according to National Geographic. Then hours later, the coast saw a supermoon, which happens when a full moon occurs at its closest orbit to Earth , says Space.com.

“All the forces contrive to create the highest of high tides and if the moon is also at perigee (closest to the earth in its orbit) then that will produce the biggest tides of all,” according to AstronomyKnowHow.com.

National Park Service officials did not report any damage resulting from the higher than normal tide.

A large black bear swims across a bay on the coast of North Carolina near a wildlife refuge in Dare County. Two fishermen in kayaks spotted the bear and followed it to shore.

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