Dianne Faucette


Our coast experiences two tide cycles daily--two high tides and two low tides--caused by the moon's gravitational pull and centrifugal force. The difference between high and low tides varies during the month. Spring tides are caused when the earth, sun and moon are in alignment, increasing the gravitational pull on the ocean which in turn causes higher than normal tides. Between spring tides are neap tides, when there is less gravitational pull on the ocean. 

The coastal South Carolina-Georgia border has the greatest tidal differences south of the Bay of Fundy. In our area, the difference between low and high tide is over eight feet (and up to 10 feet during spring tides). This significant difference between low and high tides is caused by our high tides forcing a greater amount of water into a relatively small area, as opposed to what would happen if the coastline were straight. By comparison, here are tide differences in other areas:

     1.5 feet at Cape Hatteras, NC
     5.0 feet in Charleston, SC
     2.5 feet in Jacksonville, FL


High tide in Palmetto Dunes

Low tide in Palmetto Dunes

We live in the funnel of a large bend of coastline, called the South Atlantic Bight, where the tides from north and south of us funnel into a small area. This feature causes our extreme tide differences, over eight feet between low and high tides.