Spring tides are not the tides of spring as many Iandsmen suppose. They are the very high and very low tides which occur twice a month, with the new and the full Moon, when solar and lunar magnetism pull together to make the circumterrestrial tide wave higher than at other times. The opposite to the spring tide is the neap tide, halfway between these phases of the Moon; down East, in Maine, there may be as much as five feet difference in range between springs and neaps.

Spring tides are beloved by all who live by or from the sea. At a spring low, rocky ledges and sand bars which you never see ordinarily are bared; the kinds of seaweed that requires air but twice a month appear; sand dollars like tarnished pieces of eight are visible on the bottom. Clam specialists can pick up the big "hen" clams or the quahaugs, and with a stiff wire hook deftly flip out of his burrow the elusive razor clam. Shore birds-sandpiper, plover, and curlew-skitter over the sea-vacated flats, piping softly and gorging themselves on the minor forms of life that cling to this seldom-bared shelf.


Samuel Eliot Morison from Spring Tides, 1965.

The sun, moon, and earth are in line with each other, causing spring tides -- high high tides and low low tides. This is to say that the sun and moon are in syzygy, which means alligned with the earth. The forces of the sun and moon on the water on earth reinforce eachother so that the tidal amplitudes on earth are at their greatest.

Apparently this Samuel Eliot Morison quoted in liha's write up wasn't there when there in Zeeland (the Netherlands) on the night of 31 January 1953.
"Spring tides are beloved by all who live by or from the sea"
I wouldn't say so. On that night there was a spring tide together with a good storm that caused major flooding of mainly Zeeland and some parts of Zuid-Holland and Noord-Braband killing 1853 people. (FYI: all three are provinces in the Netherlands.)

This disaster has been followed by two important government decisions:
- Constructing the Delta Works with 11 dams. Most famous one is the Zeeland Bridge, and still visited by many tourists every year (but official regulations don't count that as part of the Delta Works as that was paid by another Department).
- One reason many people died was that not everybody could swim, so a law was accepted that schools were obliged to provide swimming lessons to all primary school children in the country in grade 3 and 4. (This obligation has been abandoned about three years ago, because the government assumes parents earn enough to pay for it themselves (ok, just a plain budget reduction).

Despite the regulations, the people don't jump around from excitement when the weather man announces spring tide (with or without storm), because there are still survivors of the flooding alive.
Maybe in 20 or 30 years, when it's all just in the history books and feel safe like the people in 1953 "we love the spring tide" again .... wich is mere ignorance and underestimation of what the forces of nature can do.

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