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Twice a month, tides are higher than normal because the gravitational pull of the moon and sun occur at the same time. That’s happening with the new moon on Monday. That means about half a foot difference in low and high tides Sunday, said Stephen Gill, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“It’s going to be bad no matter what and it’s going to be worse if it hits at high tide,” Gill said

And that’s not all. An experimental science program shows Irene’s unusual size means it would produce much more of a storm surge punch than a hurricane with the same wind speeds, said NOAA atmospheric scientist Mark Powell.

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AP writer Harry Weber in Miami contributed to this report.

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Online:

The National Hurricane Center: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov

Storm surge: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/surge/

The 1938 Great New England Hurricane: http://1.usa.gov/n0vL0E