Mont-Saint-Michel will be a few centimetres away from becoming an island once again on several occasions in February as spring tides return to the Normandy coastline.
Strong tides are set to surround the tidal island on February 1, 2, 3 and 4. On the first day of the month, there will be a tidal coefficient – the size of the tide in relation to its mean – of 94 at 07:12 and of 98 at 19:40.
On February 2, the tidal coefficient will reach 101 at 07:59 and 102 at 20:25. This will be matched the next day, before dropping back to 98 on February 4.
This will mean that Mont-Saint-Michel is almost entirely surrounded by water at high tide.
Mont-Saint-Michel is only cut off from the mainland on a few days each year, and is a sight enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.
After February 4, spring tides will not return to the Mont until March, when the island is expected to be completely surrounded by water and made into an island.
The tidal island, whose modern day population is around 30, has a history which spans millennia.
Between the fifth to the eighth century it fell under the control of several different cultures, from the Gallo-Romans to the Franks. After the Norman conquest of England in 1066, it was depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry, in a scene where Harold Godwinson is pictured rescuing Norman knights from quicksand on the flats around the island.
The Mont has been the scene of various disputes and conflicts over the centuries, and during World War Two, the Nazis used the St Auburn church as a lookout post.
The island’s famous Abbey was first designed and built around the twelfth century, although it has undergone many changes over time.
What is a spring tide?
The term spring tide refers to the ‘springing forth’ of the sea at full or new moon.
They therefore occur twice each month throughout the year, at times when the Earth, sun and moon are nearly in alignment and the gravitational pull of the moon is added to that of the sun.
As a result of this, high tides get higher and low tides get lower.
In the waters surrounding Mont-Saint-Michel, spring tides are accompanied by a tidal bore, a strong tide which pushes up a river and changes its direction.