Spring tides and Ice storms

Spring tides are the highest tides of the monthly lunar cycle, and this month’s spring tide was one of the highest of the year (sometimes called a “King Tide”).  By coincidence, this spring tide corresponded with a very rare ice storm on January 3rd; something that hasn’t occurred on this part of the Georgia Coast in over two decades.

The storm prompted the Sapelo Island ferry to shut down for over 24 hours and UGAMI to close for two days.  The spring tide, which was accentuated by high winds, caused minor flooding in particularly low-lying spots such as Shell Hammock Road and Beach Road.  Tree limbs bowed under the weight of the ice, many crashing to the ground. The electricity flickered on and off throughout Wednesday morning, and finally gave out at about noon.  Power remained off for 28 hours, as the temperature plunged to the low 20’s F.  UGAMI’s backup generator kept the lights and heat on in the main lab building, which became a refuge for many of Sapelo Island’s inhabitants.  UGAMI staff and other island residents gathered to warm up and watched a Harry Potter movie in the auditorium on Wednesday night; a few people opted to spend the night in the auditorium and library rather than to return to their cold, dark homes.

In the end, the ice storm and spring tide created minor inconveniences on Sapelo Island.  No significant damage occurred and everything was back to normal by the next afternoon. And it offered a good excuse to take a break, admire the frozen beauty, and watch a movie with friends and neighbors.

See our photo gallery of ice storm images.