Monday, August 29, 2011

That's Neap

photo of wave taken from Cape <span class=Celestial Mechanic Bob and I have been observing that the same days the high tides are really high on the Oregon Coast, the low tides are really low. We also noticed this phenomenon happened during full moons and new moons which lead me to believe that witches and pagans were somehow involved. Well, possibly, but it turns out science has an explanation too and has determined two specific types of tides.

Spring tides have the largest tidal range and these coincide with either a new moon or a full moon. The term, Spring, refers to “jumping or moving forward” not to the season. So when a storm moves onshore during a high spring tide (as in Hurricane Irene last weekend) it gives extra cause for concern as the consequences can be severe. Low spring tides are good for clamming.

On the other hand…

Neap tides result in less extreme tidal conditions and occur during waxing and waning moons. The tidal range is at a minimum, slack water time is longer and the tidal currents are not as strong. No one seems clear about where the term Neap came from, although I have a theory on that too. Neap is derived from the noise, “Neap, neap…neap, neap,” made by those fuzzy two-headed characters on Sesame Street as they bounce around the screen causing trouble.

So we learned something today and are another step closer to solving all of the mysteries of the universe. We now turn our attention to answering to the age-old question, “Why is the ocean water so dang cold in the summer on the Oregon Coast?”

Thanks to Sesame Street and Wikipedia for clearing this up.

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