Tsunami in N.J. linked to derecho?

Late on the afternoon of June 13, a strong outrush tide carried water rapidly seaward from Barnegat Inlet, followed by an onrushing  6-foot wave that spaned the width of the Inlet.

When the wave crashed, three people were swept off a jetty, and two required medical treatment.

That's according to an account from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Tsunami Warning Center.

The center has determined that the wave was a tsunami, based on measurements from 30 tide gauges, and that it probably had a weather connection.

The center noted that the National Weather Service reported "a low-end derecho" over the Jersey Shore right before the tsunami. Strong air-pressure fluctuations were recoreded in the region.

The center said the wave also might have been tied to "the slumping at the continental shelf east of New Jersey."

In any event, no need for Jersey Shore residents or visitors to head for the hills. New Jersey has a long history of tsunami-like wave activity, according to this weather service report by now retired staffer, Harry G. Woodworth.

One hyothesis holds that the devastation of the 1938 and 1944 hurricanes -- which were amazingly destructive even though they never made landfall in New Jersey -- resulted from tsunami waves.

How could that happen? Winds circulate counterclockwise around the eyes of hurricanes. Winds to the east of the eyes are from the south and southeast, and they pile up the waters that build the deadly storm surges.

Areas to the west of the center can get hammered by powerful winds from the northwest. The winds could become potent enough literally to hold back the tides, creating a wind dam.

All this pent-up energy would be released as the storm left the scene and the winds died down, and a wave would come crashing to Shore.

As for the June 13 event, the investigation is ongoing

.

Continue Reading