New Brunswick

Perfect 'anti-storm' cited as reason for especially low tides in Chaleur Bay

A lower-than-normal tide in Chaleur Bay had many wondering what was the cause. It turns out the new moon, the timing of the low tide and the weather all played a role.

New moon, weather, timing of low tide left bay looking as if someone pulled plug and drained it, resident says

Sabina Bittner said many people were out walking on the bottom of Chaleur Bay during the lower than normal low tide Sunday. (Facebook/Sabina Brittner)

When Sabine Bittner headed out for her daily walk on Youghall Beach in Bathurst on Sunday, she was not expecting to see what she did. 

She expected to see a good-size low tide. She was not expecting to see it as low as it was in Chaleur Bay.

"We couldn't believe it. In fact, many said, 'Oh, my goodness, this looks as if someone pulled the plug out of the bathtub and drained it all.'

"But the whole bay was looked as if it had been drained, so we're not sure what exactly caused it.

Jessica Morena, a tidal analyst with the Canadian Hydrographic Service said it was the coinciding of three things -- nice weather, the low tide and the moon's position that was the cause.

"It was sort of a perfect storm of events, or an anti-storm almost."

Because of the new moon, Morena explained, there would be what is known as spring tides. 

"The result of a spring tide is that there are higher highs and lower lows," she said. "So when the tide was low, it was already set up to be lower than usual." 

Sandbars like this aren't usually so exposed during low tide on Chaleur Bay. (Facebook/Sabina Bittner)

Then with it being a nice day with clear sky weather and a high pressure system moving in as the water was falling, the tide was lower than normal.

"So it actually turned out that the peak of this high pressure system was sort of coming across, like, the Bay of Chaleur area at the exact time that the low tide was hitting.

"So just all of the timing of everything lined up perfectly to make it an exceptionally low tide over the weekend."

The very low tide at midday exposed a large expanse of the bottom of the Chaleur Bay. Pictures on social medial showed the lower than usual tide in other areas along the Acadian coastline.

Low tide has not been quite as surprising since then, but it's still lower than normal. 

Bittner said she times her daily walk to the low tide, so she can walk as far as possible out on the sandbar. What she saw Sunday left her flabbergasted. 

"That day the first sandbar actually looked at if it was a massive land mass. I mean, it was just absolutely gigantic." 

Bittner estimates it was several kilometres in length adding the low tide also exposed four or five other sandbars that are not usually seen during low tide. 

Sabine Bittner said she wished she had a drone to see how large an area was exposed during the unusual low tide. (Facebook/Sabine Bittner)

"We wish we would have had a drone just to see how massive it really was, the sandbars because you know when you stand on it we could clearly see the magnitude and how big it all was."

As she was out walking, Bittner said, she met people who have lived on Youghall Beach for 30 or 40 years who told her they had never seen the tide so low. 

"We do get some nice low tides mostly in the summer or, you know, three days after the moon, the full moon. That's usually when we get them but nothing close to this. This is a two to three times what we would usually get lower." 

When it came to the high tide, Morena said it wasn't as high as expected and the nice weather was also the reason for it. 

"Because of the high pressure system, they were sort of dampened a little bit."

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