The year’s biggest super moon is here! But did it predict the snow storm sweeping the East Coast?
February’s full moon, known as a Super Snow Moon, is the brightest of 2019. The moon was at its peak on Tuesday morning at 10:54 a.m. ET. However, because the moon isn’t visible in the mid-morning, Monday and Tuesday nights are the best times to see it, according to CNN.com.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac explains the word “super” is used to designate when the full or new moon is closest to Earth in its orbit, making it appear larger and brighter than usual. However, according to the Almanac, most people won’t be able to spot the difference between super moons and typical full moons.
However, a Snow Moon doesn’t predict a winter storm, despite the flakes falling over the eastern U.S. on Tuesday.
The “snow” in the name is used for February’s full moon each year, because in the Northern Hemisphere, the heaviest snow typically falls in February. Native American tribes began calling this month’s phenomenon the “Full Snow Moon,” according to the Almanac.
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The Almanac also states that other common names for February’s full moon included the Hunger Moon, Bony Moon, and Little Famine Moon, because the harsh temperatures and poor climate made hunting difficult.
However, another characteristic of last night’s full moon does have the potential to predict winter weather. Many believe that the presence of a “lunar halo,” a visible glowing ring visible around the moon, means snow is in the forecast. And the Almanac supports this as a true, at least in part.
The theory that a ring around the moon foreshadows rain or snow is generally correct, but it’s not 100 percent accurate, according to professor Brent McRoberts of Texas A&M University’s Department of Atmospheric Science.
“Often you can look up during a clear night and see a bright ring around the moon. These are called halos,” Brent says. “They are formed by light bending or refracting as it passes through ice crystals from high-level cirrus clouds. These types of clouds do not produce rain or snow, but they often are forerunners of a low pressure system that could produce rain or snow in a day or two.”
McRoberts says that one study shows that moon rings predicting rain is correct 66 percent of the time.
Earlier this year, January brought us a Super Blood Wolf Moon, which occurs when a lunar eclipse happens during a super moon in the first month of the year. And while this one won’t likely be as shocking to see, because the moon won’t change color, it’s sure to be a beautiful site if the sky is clear.