Scientists: Freak NJ Wave Was Rare Tsunami

Offshore storms blamed for 6-foot wall of water

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 26, 2013 1:40 AM CDT | Updated Jun 26, 2013 6:03 AM CDT

(Newser) – Tsunamis aren't generally cited as one of the hazards of living in New Jersey, but scientists say one hit the state's coast earlier this month. Experts believe the 6-foot wall of water that hit the coastal community of Barnegat Light, seriously injuring a boy and his father, was a phenomenon called a "meteotsunami," USA Today reports. The huge wave was probably generated by a strong weather system offshore.

The only other meteotsunamis recorded on the East Coast in recent history were in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, in 2008, and in Daytona Beach, Florida, in 1992. "It takes a number of special things for this to happen, which is why it doesn't happen very often," the director of the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center tells Morning Call. There's also a chance the tsunami could have been caused by an underwater earthquake or landslide, but no such activity was detected.

Two people were seriously injured when the wave slammed into Barnegat Light, New Jersey.   (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)
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