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Did a Tsunami Hit Barnegat Inlet on June 13?

Tsunami-like waves were reported along the East Coast on June 13 according to the National Weather Service (NOAA), who say that the tsunami was recorded by more than 30 tide gages and one DART buoy throughout the Northwestern Atlantic Ocean.

A low-end derecho swept over New Jersey on June 12-13. (NOAA)

The tsunami wave swept three people off the south jetty and at least two required medical treatment.  The jetty rocks are about 5 to 6 feet above sea level.

A witness, Brian Coen, told NOAA that he observed the tsunami around 3:30 p.m. while spear fishing from a boat near the Barnegat Inlet in NJ. He was able to back his boat out before getting sucked over by the wave.

Coen described a very large wave coming in, about 6 feet peak-to-trough spanning the length of the inlet. He said the upper 2 feet of the wave was breaking, and that the wave ocurred in conjunction with a reversal of the current.

Thunderstorms had rolled through earlier in the day around noon, and NOAA says that a low-end derecho moved from east to west across the Jersey Shore shortly before the tsunami occurred. A derecho is a straight-line windstorm associated with a fast-moving band of severe thunderstorms.

What Caused the Tsunami?

The National Weather Service is not sure what the cause is, saying in a news release, “The source is complex and still under review, though the coincidence at several gages with strong atmospheric pressure fluctuations indicate it is at least partly generated by meteorological causes.”

Meteorologist Alan Kasper says that some possible causes of a tsunami are, “An earthquake or a small part of the continental shelf that broke off but they don’t really know.”


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