June storm might have caused rare East Coast tsunami: NOAA


The Statue of Liberty is seen from the Staten Island Ferry on June 11, 2013 in New York City as much of the United States braces for serious storms.


Spencer Platt

The storm that pummeled the East Coast earlier this month might have caused a rare tsunami, a top National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) official told the Associated Press on Tuesday. 

The storm-watching organization defines a tsunami as "a series of ocean waves generated by sudden displacements in the sea floor, landslides, or volcanic activity."

However, the cause of tsunami-like waves observed at more than 30 locations on June 13 may have been a storm that hit the East Coast. The National Weather Service had classified the weather system as a low-end derecho.

The NOAA's release on the event has an eyewitness account of the tsunami, from Brian Coen.

"At this point, Brian noticed a large wave coming in, approximately 6 feet peak-to-trough and spanning across the inlet. The upper 2 feet of the wave was breaking. This wave occurred in conjunction with a reversal of the current such that even though the tide was going out, a strong surge was entering the inlet. This surge carried the divers back over the submerged reef and into the inlet from where they were picked up. On the south jetty three people were swept off the rocks which were 5 to 6 feet above sea level at the time. At least two were injured requiring medical treatment."

Mike Angove of NOAA's tsunami program told the AP scientists are still examining storm conditions and have not yet reached a final analysis on the causes of the tsunami.

Paul Whitmore, director of the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center, said the tsunami might fall under a rare category — a meteotsunami, caused by meteorological, not seismic, activity.