• Very low tide in Katama is tied to the moon.
  • Timothy Johnson

In Vineyard Skies: Extreme Tides

You’ll probably notice that tides are running higher and lower than normal in the days and nights ahead. High tide is pushing up the wrackline on beaches more than we are accustomed, and at low tide sandbars are showing up in shallow areas that usually go unnoticed. This extreme range in the tides in the days ahead is a coastal event.

Blame it on astronomy. Next week, on Tuesday, the full moon will be closer than we are accustomed and with closeness comes a greater gravitational pull on the Earth’s oceans. From time to time the gravitational pull of the moon, together with the sun work together to give us a more varied tide. They’ll be pulling on a more coordinated fashion next week.

On a monthly basis, the moon gets close to the earth and we call it perigee. On Jan. 1, the first day of the New Year, the moon will be 221,559 miles away and that is close. Looking up at the moon, you can say it is a “big” full moon, though that perception is really in your head and not something noticeably visual. What will be more noticeable is the tide.

The moon’s distance can vary by a small percentage. On Jan. 15, in apogee, the moon will be 252,565 miles away.

The most noticeable aspect of this variation is in the tide; especially when we are either looking at a new moon or a full moon. The sun is always the bigger culprit when it comes to pulling on our oceans. When the moon is in alignment with the sun, the pull is greater.


Sunrise and Sunset
Day Sunrise Sunset
Fri., Dec. 29 7:08 4:19
Sat., Dec. 30 7:08 4:19
Sun., Dec. 31 7:08 4:20
Mon., Jan. 1 7:08 4:21
Tues., Jan. 2 7:08 4:22
Wed., Jan. 3 7:08 4:23
Thurs., Jan. 4 7:08 4:24
Fri., Jan. 5 7:08 4:25

Temperatures and Precipitation
Day Max (Fº) Min (Fº) Inches
Dec. 22 35 25 0.00
Dec. 23 42 32 0.14
Dec. 24 55 37 0.41
Dec. 25 49 36 0.34
Dec. 26 48 25 0.00
Dec. 27 31 18 0.00
Dec. 28 23 11 0.00


Water temperature in Edgartown harbor: 35º F


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