From the ABC 7 Weather team

Extreme Super Moon 2011 to cause destruction?

March 8, 2011 - 05:00 AM
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On March 19, the full moon will be closer to earth than it has been since 1993. Some astrologers say we should brace for earthquakes, wildfires and fierce electrical storms.

A full moon in Greece. (Photo: Associated Press)

UPDATE: Still not buying the Japan earthquake/Supermoon correlation. But it does turn out that the earth can cause quakes on the moon. Read about the four types of "moonquakes" here.

Original: Don’t be alarmed if come March 19 you find your astrology-reading friends clunking around in hip waders and full-face helmets with fire extinguishers under their arms. You see, that Saturday falls upon a scrotum-tightening event known in astrological circles as an Extreme SuperMoon.

The popularizer of this to-the-max moniker appears to be Richard Nolle, a diviner of the stars who Sightings credits with predicting the 1993 terrorist bombing at the World Trade Center. An Extreme SuperMoon occurs when a new or full moon coincides with the big rock’s closest orbit to earth, Nolle says. The coming SuperMoon (which is also known as a Full Worm Moon) will be so extreme (221,566 miles away) that a similar event hasn’t been seen since 1993 – it’s almost an Extreme SuperDuper moon.

Are you prepared? Doubtful! According to Nolle’s forecast, from March 16 to March 22 we could see “the usual.” That means:

[A] surge in extreme tides along the coasts, a rash of moderate-to-severe seismic activity (including magnitude 5+ earthquakes, tsunami and volcanic eruptions), and most especially in this case a dramatic spike in powerful storms with heavy precipitation, damaging winds and extreme electrical activity. Floods are a big part of the picture in this case, although some of these will be dry electrical storms that spark fast-spreading wildfires.

He left out thundersnow. But please read on, if you're not a cowering wreck by now:

Being planetary in scale, there’s no place on our home planet that’s beyond the range of a SuperMoon, so it wouldn’t hurt to make ready wherever you are or plan to be during the March 16-22 SuperMoon risk window.

The gravity is going to be out of control! I have already visited REI to purchase a jumbo-sized backpack for a SuperMoon survival kit. Included inside: a blindfold so I don’t have to see the moon, black body paint so the moon can’t see me, a thermos of warm milk and a streetsweeper shotgun.

The people who are spreading this menacing moon theory as far as I can tell do not beckon from the crackpot fringe, but are journalists working for established media outlets. (Which I guess if you’re a Tea Partier does mean they’re extremists.) They’re not agreeing with the terror scenario, but they sure aren’t examining the data very hard. For instance, this article in News.com.au quotes a scientist saying the impending "Moonageddon" won’t do much except change the tidal levels ever so slightly. Then comes the big BUT:

But try telling that to anyone who suffered through the New England hurricane in 1938, or the Hunter Valley floods of 1955. Both happened during lunar perigrees.

Cyclone Tracy in 1974 and Hurricance Katrina in 2005 also coincided with SuperMoons, or at least, very close to.

A “perigree” describes the moon’s closest approach to earth in its irregular orbit. “During,” in the context of this article, apparently means “somewhere in the same year, or maybe the one before or after.” For instance, Cyclone Tracy hit Australia on Christmas Eve, 1974. The closest SuperMoon was on Jan. 27, 1975. I wouldn’t considered those two events “very close to” each other, especially if I was paying an astrologer to pin down the date to play 01081975 lotto numbers.

Hurricane Katrina made land on the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, 2005, which was 10 days after the SuperMoon for that month. The 1938 New England hurricane happened on Sept. 21, three weeks after a SuperMoon. Australia’s Hunter River experienced mass flooding and property destruction in February 1955, two whole months before and after bookending SuperMoons.

I realize we’re not exactly talking NASA-level science here, but the arbitrariness of this particular astrological prediction is annoying. I could just pick harmless events that happened around SuperMoons and use them to formulate a theory stating that nobody should ever pay astrologers for readings again. Oh look, I did:

Jan. 25, 1948: One day before an Extreme SuperMoon, a braking malfunction at a Los Angeles rail yard sent a runaway train crashing through a concrete wall 20 feet above street level. Fortunately, the train stopped in time and didn’t fall, and nobody was injured.

Nov. 10, 1954: On this Extreme SuperMoon, Sen. Joe McCarthy issued a press release calling a Congressional committee the "unwitting handmaiden," "involuntary agent" and "attorneys-in-fact" of the Communist Party. Rather than propel the senator into further Red-Scare stardom, these words lead the Senate to censure him and wipe his stain off the halls of Congress for good.

Feb. 26, 1975: An Extreme SuperMoon loomed on this date, and yet Elvis still had 2 years on the clock. He managed to sign autographs in the parking lot of the Memphian Theatre in Memphis without dropping dead.

Dec. 2, 1990: Jim Kelly and the Buffalo Bills deployed their game-changing "K-Gun" offense against the Philadelphia Eagles on this date, choosing not to be cowed by an Extreme SuperMoon or to huddle during their offense. The tactic baffled the Eagles and the Bills won the game 30 to 23, later making it to the Super Bowl.

March 8, 1993: MTV aired the first episode of Beavis and Butthead during an Extreme SuperMoon. The show was blamed for killing a 2-year-old girl the same year ("Yes, yes, yes! Fire, fire, fire!") and could have been quickly canceled, yet goes on to become a successful fixture for Gen-Yers and is expected to return to production soon.

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