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January 1999 Issue
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FOCUS on Geography
Atlases, and Books
January 1999, Vol. 89 (1), pp. 23-33
STORM TIDES OF THE FUNDY
CON DESPLANQUE AND DAVID J. MOSSMAN
Historically, storm tides have wreaked havoc in the Bay of
Fundy. With the tidal system resonating at close to the 12-hour,
25-minute dominant lunar tide of the Atlantic Ocean, variations
in normal Fundy tides are in the main caused by astronomical factors.
The strongest Fundy tides occur when four elements-perigee, spring
tide, and anomalistic and tropical monthly cycles-peak simultaneously.
The closest match occurs at intervals of 18.03 years, a time known
as the Saros. Problems arise when storms coincide with these intervals.
A strong Saros has coincided with several major historical storm
tides in the Bay of Fundy, including the 1976 Groundhog Day storm,
the 1869 Saxby Tide, and the 1759 storm tide. With continuing
global sea-level rise and regional crustal subsidence, the possible
recurrence of destructive storm tides has grave implications for
property owners and settlements in the Fundy coastal zone.
Keywords: Bay of Fundy, coastal hazards, Saros, storm
MR. DESPLANQUE is a retired hydraulic engineer living in Amherst,
Nova Scotia, Canda H4H 2A8.
DR. MOSSMAN is a professor of geoscience at Mount Allison
University, Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada E4L 1E6.