The full moon and Hurricane Sandy

It may not have escaped readers’ attention that Hurricane Sandy has peaked on the exact day of full moon.

Perigees (day of moon closest to earth for the month) supply intensity of extreme weather systems.

Perigee exaggerates the air tide, creating lower air height and enabling the searing heat of the equatorial summer sun to come closer to the surface of the sea at or near the equator.

This in turn allows the temperature at the sea’s surface to reach the required 26°C that is needed to activate massive evaporation within 6° latitude of the equator to create a cyclone.

In comparison, the average surface temperature of the ocean is only 16°C.

Hurricane Sandy has been running true to the rules of the moon.

Hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons, all one and the same thing, happen with full/new moons and involve Perigees.

Right on Perigee day 17 October, Sandy popped into the eastern Caribbean Sea.

At first a low pressure area, extra heat from the moon’s Southern Declination of 19th allowed Sandy to become a tropical wave within 2 days.

The southern moon trekking north on 21 October pulled Sandy towards the US mainland. The full moon has halted her progress.

Hurricane Sandy is near the end of the northern hemisphere hurricane season which runs from June to November.

Sandy formed because the October Perigee was a powerful 6th-closest to earth for 2012.

Sandy was always going to be losing the fight to stay relevant after Perigee day 17 October. Her edge would brush the mainland, but not her brunt.

Consequently Sandy was always going to be history by Full Moon day 29th, losing her eye and at the same time hurricane status.

As her remnants went ashore the winds immediately dropped.

A quick look at this year’s hurricanes reveals the commonality in patterns; and the reader may see that hurricanes are new or full moon-related in instigation, and require Perigee for strength and maximisation.

The season started with Subtropical Storm “Beryl” on New Moon day 21 May, and although Beryl ran out of puff in a week, Perigee/full moon day 4 June made remnants of Beryl intensify into a new storm in the east.

On Northern Declination/new moon day 19 June, the US National Hurricane Center renamed Tropical Storm Chris as “Hurricane Chris” although it only lasted 3 days then withered.

Two days after Perigee day 29 July, a system called Tropical Depression 5 developed into “Hurricane Ernesto”, becoming Tropical Storm Ernesto on full moon day 2 August, striking Mexico on 9 August and dying the next day.

“Hurricane Gordon” peaked as a Category 2 hurricane on New Moon day 18 August, then immediately started weakening, displaced by a new system called Tropical Depression-9 on 21 August and intensifying on Perigee day 24 August.

It developed its eye the next day, the 25th, shortly before making landfall at Haiti and subsequently dying.

“Hurricane Kirk” developed in the same time frame, dying on Full Moon day 31 August.

This full moon saw two other systems start, one becoming “Hurricane Leslie” two days later, affecting Newfoundland and Canada but only lasting another week, and another called “Hurricane Michael” with the same duration, affecting the Cape Verde Islands.

“Hurricane Isaac” also started on New Moon day 18 August, its eye developing on 24 August (Perigee 23 August) and dying as an extratropical cyclone over Missouri on 31 August, the day of full moon, exactly as Hurricane Sandy has done.

On 15 September, only one day before new moon day 16 September, saw “Hurricane Nadine” named.

The wind-field became larger than average on Perigee day 19 September, after which Nadine transitioned to a subtropical cyclone on 21 September.

On 15 October, “Hurricane Rafael” strengthened into a Category-1 hurricane the day before new noon/Perigee of 16th/17 October.

The storm intensified east of Bermuda, reaching peak winds of 150 km/h exactly on that new moon/Perigee day.

Soon after, it began to weaken to become an extra-tropical cyclone later in the day of 17 October.

Our own 1988 “Cyclone Bola” formed on 17 February, the New Moon/Perigee day.

Bola took 10 days to reach hurricane-force, and died on full moon day 3 March, the remnants passing to the north of the North Island of New Zealand on March 8.

Bola continued to weaken and was finally absorbed by a stationary trough near the South Island on March 12.

Cyclones “Fergus” in the last days of December 1996, and two weeks later “Dreena” in January 1997 was one moon cycle of 19 years after Bola, almost exactly to the month, and may be said to have been Bola on a return trip.

Fergus formed straight after 24 December (day of Full Moon + Northern Declination).

Dreena was at its most destructive 10-12 January, due to New Moon/Perigee 9-10 January, hardly any coincidence.

So why is it that meteorologists do not recognise the moon in forecasting? The answer, when it comes to science and truth is money.

Cycles simply do not sell newspapers.

Scare stories do.

We read and hear the phrase "Worst since records began!", or "Worst in living memory!" so very often these days.

It is the media’s bread and butter.

If it was more widely known that such storms have happened often before, as would be the situation in the case of a cycle, then such headlines would be more readily recognised as science lies.

It is perhaps the greatest scientific gaff of the previous century, and still ongoing, that the moon has been factored out of all weather models.

But meteorologists have put themselves in an impossible and invidious position, because to admit the moon’s role now would put egg on their faces.

Ken Ring of is author of the Weather Almanac for NZ for 2013 (publisher Random House)