Thursday, June 27, 2013

Meteotsunami hits New Jersey Barnegat Light

This story was published in the evening of The Morning Call of the "Lehigh Valley's First Source for News" of June 25, 2013 written by Peter Hall with the title of "Freak Jersey shore wave being called a tsunami."   The article reports a firsthand account of the tsunami-like wave from Brian Cohen, who was spear-fishing in the inlet when the wave hit.
Cohen said the tide going out through the inlet suddenly became stronger about 3:30 p.m., carrying divers over a submerged breakwater and eventually exposing rocks in the structure that are normally 3to 4 feet underwater. 
The strong current out to sea continued for one or two minutes, and Cohen backed his boat away from the breakwater to avoid being pulled over it, according to the tsunami warning center. 
Cohen then noticed a large wave 6 feet tall from trough to peak spanning the mouth of the inlet. The current reversed direction, causing a surge of sea water into the inlet that washed divers back over the breakwater.
One of the main consequence of the phenomenon is that reportedly there were three people who were walking on a breakwater south of the inlet, normally 5 or 6 feet above the ocean, were swept into the water. Two of them were injured badly enough to require medical treatment, according to the report of NOAA’s tsunami warning center.

The news is clearly posting wide interests as it has been widely reported around the country and beyond.  But it was up to the USA Today which published the report by Todd B. Bates and Kirk Moore of Asbury Park Press that appeared to set the news straight by first reporting with the correct terminology currently used in the academic world:  "Meteotsunami that hit Barnegat Light on June 13 knocked three off the inlet jetty, injuring at least two people" :
ASBURY PARK, N.J. -- It appears that a rare type of tsunami called a "meteotsunami" hit the New Jersey coast June 13, with Barnegat Light bearing the brunt of the wave.
"There was a strong weather system that moved from across the eastern U.S. that day, then moved offshore New Jersey," said Paul Whitmore, director of the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska.
Strong weather systems can cause jumps in air pressure, spawning waves that act just like tsunamis, Whitmore said.
"The impacts were greatest there in Barnegat Light," he said. An approximately 6-foot wave knocked three people off the inlet jetty, injuring at least two of them, according to a center report.
So there you have it: a happening of meteotsunmai in New Jersey shore! 

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