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French coasts on alert as "tide of the century" looms

The Mont Saint-Michel 11th century abbey to be entirely surrounded by the English Channel following exceptionally high spring tides.
The Mont Saint-Michel 11th century abbey to be entirely surrounded by the English Channel following exceptionally high spring tides. Reuters/Pascal Rossignol

France expects the "tide of the century" as exceptionally high spring tides will hit coasts over the weekend. 

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Parts of the French coast are on alert for the so-called "tide of the century" over the weekend with tidal coefficients of 118 and 119 respectively on Saturday and Sunday.

Brittany has witnessed a month of exceptionally large spring tides but they will rise to their top level over the weekend, the maximum scale coefficients being 120.

"The eclipse and the tide are linked" said Kevin Horsburgh, head of the Marine Physics and Ocean Climate research group at Britain's National Oceanography Centre (NOC).

"For an eclipse to take place, the sun, the Earth and the moon need to be in a straight line, which is also an essential condition for high tides," he added.

The Mont Saint-Michel 11th century abbey is expected to be entirely surrounded by the English Channel with waters rising by a staggering 14 metres.

Reuters/Pascal Rossignol

The so-called "tide of the century" in fact happens every 18 years.

The moon alignment with the sun adds to the gravitational pull on the seas, creating a high point in the 18-year lunar cycle.

Nevertheless tourists are flocking to the coasts of Brittany and Normandy where most of the Mont Saint-Michel hotels are fully booked.

Friday's eclipse will result in major tides on the French Atlantic coast, in the English Channel and North Sea and in Canada's Bay of Fundy over the weekend.

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