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This article is from the In-Depth Report Hurricane Sandy: An Unprecedented Disaster

Myth-Conceptions: 5 Falsehoods about Superstorm Sandy

During disasters, rumors, untruths and exaggerations swirl through the air along with the detritus of hurricane winds

Myth: The full moon caused a dramatic rise in Sandy's storm surge

The moon has a profound effect upon the world's oceans. Its gravitational tug pushes and pulls large bodies of water, and when the moon is full, it's also at a position in its monthly orbit to be at its strongest.

So it was unlucky, then, that Sandy made landfall during a full moon—when the sun, moon and Earth align to produce the strongest gravitational effect on the tides. This combined force, aka spring tide (which also occurs during a new moon) altered tidal patterns, making high tides higher and adding to an already deadly storm surge.

This isn't a myth, but it's also gotten quite a bit of unwarranted hype. The increase in water level was probably only a few centimeters—enough to make only a small difference compared with the magnitude of the tidal surge created by the storm. —Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato

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