Tuesday’s Storm Was Strong Enough to Generate a Small ‘Meteotsunami’ in New Jersey

The events are not uncommon and are less destructive than the tsunamis caused by earthquakes

What to Know

  • It's called a "meteotsunami," and as opposed to the wave events caused by earthquakes, these are instead caused by fast-moving storms
  • Preliminary data indicates a small tsunami at a buoy off of Atlantic City around 8:40 p.m., which caused fluctuating water levels for hours
  • There were no reports of damage from the event; the storms have been blamed for at least five deaths across the region, though

Tuesday's fatal storm was so strong that it actually generated a small tsunami in New Jersey, the National Weather Service said.

The event is called a "meteotsunami," and as opposed to the wave events caused by earthquakes, these are instead caused by fast-moving storms. 

Preliminary data indicates a small tsunami at a buoy off of Atlantic City around 8:40 p.m., which resulted in fluctuating water levels for several hours. There were no reports of damage from the event.

"Most meteotsunamis are too small to notice, but large meteotsunamis can have devastating coastal impacts (although not to the extreme of the 2004 Indian Ocean and 2011 Japan tsunamis)," the NWS explains in an online fact sheet

To be sure, the phenomenon is not new at all - but as it's been better studied and understood in recent years, meteorologists have improved their ability to recognize and track them.

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