An unusual meteotsunami was recorded across portions of the New England and Mid-Atlantic coastlines Tuesday night following a strong line of thunderstorms that moved offshore from the northwest direction. According to the National Ocean Service of NOAA, “Meteotsunamis are large waves that scientists are just beginning to better understand. Unlike tsunamis triggered by seismic activity, meteotsunamis are driven by air-pressure disturbances often associated with fast-moving weather events, such as severe thunderstorms, squalls, and other storm fronts. The storm generates a wave that moves towards the shore, and is amplified by a shallow continental shelf and inlet, bay, or other coastal feature.”
This meteotsunami was a weaker one with heights of generally up to one foot. With some of these events, heights can exceed six feet, however. Several tidal stations along the coast measured the change in water with fluctuating levels. At Woods Hole, Massachusetts, the water level chart looked like this:
Notice the fluctuations in the water levels, as shown by the red line. This meteotsunami was measured by stations like the one above from Massachusetts through Delaware. Thankfully, minimal coastal flooding occurred. In some events, moderate to perhaps major flooding can take place with little notice from this kind of event.