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Nature Turns the Tide : Waves Peak, Recede as Winter Arrives

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The sun and the moon conspired to create some of the highest and lowest tides of the year along the county’s coastline on Saturday, the first day of winter.

“You’ve got an excellent low tide (Saturday afternoon) but most people are shopping, so the crowds should be a bit lower,” said David Ruger, a ranger at Crystal Cove State Park, of the park’s tide pools. “People must pay attention to the (tide schedules) because attendance is usually up during those days.”

Saturday morning’s high tide peaked at 7.1 feet above sea level about 8:15, and the afternoon low tide dipped to 1.7 feet below sea level at 3:35, according to the National Weather Service. Today’s highest tide will occur about 9 a.m. and the lowest tide at 4:17 p.m. But by Monday, the tides will begin to recede to normal levels, according to the weather service.

The weather forecast indicates that Orange County may have increasing cloudiness today, followed possibly by evening showers, according to Steve Burback, a meteorologist for WeatherData Inc., which provides weather information to The Times. The rain could last until mid-morning Monday.

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Temperatures could reach near 70 degrees in the county today before dipping into the 40s after dark, Burback said.

The National Weather Service issued a statement Saturday morning cautioning coastal property owners and authorities along the Southern California coast of the potential danger this weekend if the high tide were to be accompanied by heavy surf.

There were no reports of damage Saturday morning, said Ed Wentworth, a meteorologist for the weather service.

“We have been lucky,” Wentworth said. “The high tide is expected to be less than 7 feet (above sea level) Monday, so we probably will not have to put out an advisory.”

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The action of the tides is influenced by the gravitational effect of the moon’s proximity to Earth. The gravitational pull of the sun also contributed to the extreme tides this weekend because the Earth’s orbit traces closer to the sun in winter.

The winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year and the longest shadows as the sun appears lowest in the sky.


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