A piece of celestial good luck likely made it easier for engineers to successfully refloat the giant container ship that blocked the Suez Canal for almost a week.
Sunday’s so-called full “Worm moon” led to a high spring tide — about 18 inches (46 centimetres) above normal — on Monday, which eased the process of straightening out and dislodging the ship, according to NASA.
According to the National Ocean Service, spring tides have nothing to do with the season; it’s a historical term when waves “spring forth” during new and full moons.
While there are 12 to 13 full moons in a year, only six to eight are associated with a tide high enough to do what was done on Monday — because the moon is closest to Earth during those full moons, said CNN meteorologist Judson Jones.
“It is not uncommon for these tides to be a foot higher than other high tides during the year when the moon is further from the Earth,” Jones said. “It is no doubt that these high tides were part of the strategy for dislodging such a massive ship.”
Those six to eight full moons are called supermoons because they appear bigger and brighter in the sky. The March supermoon was the first of the year and was expected to be the fourth brightest moon of 2021.
Traffic resumed in both directions of the Suez Canal on Monday evening after tug boats spent several hours working to free the Ever Given container ship’s bow after dislodging the stern earlier in the day.
The successful refloating was met with triumph and relief, as hundreds of vessels that have been trapped in the pivotal shipping lane since March 23 prepare to restart their journeys.
The challenge now is dealing with the backlog and congestion of the ships, which, working day and night, could take more than three days to clear.