Wind, current combined to raise E Coast sea level

August 31, 2009

(AP) -- Folks living along the East Coast were in higher water early this summer thanks to a change in the wind and current flow.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Monday the higher than normal sea levels were caused by persistent winds from the northeast - pushing water toward shore - and a weakening of the Florida current that feeds water into the Gulf Stream.

Water levels ranged from six inches to two feet above normal in areas from Maine to Florida during June and July, the agency said.

While the ocean varies and unusual conditions do occur, Mike Szabados, director of NOAA's Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services, said in a statement, "What made this event unique was its breadth, intensity and duration."

The high was intensified in June by a strong spring tide, officials added.

While it wasn't a record for northeasterly winds or for the decline in the Florida current, the combination of the two helped raise sea levels all along the coast.

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On the Net:

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: http://www.noaa.gov

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