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Some Locations Exposed to Meteotsunamis
Area Country Max Height (m)
Nagasaki Bay Japan 4.8
Pohang Harbour Korea 0.8
Longkou Harbour China 3
Ciutadella Harbour Spain 4
Gulf of Trieste Italy 1.5
West Sicily Italy 1.5
Malta Malta 1
Great Lakes[1] USA/Canada 3
Daytona Beach[1] United States of America 3.5

A meteotsunami or meteorological tsunami[2] is a tsunami-like wave phenomenon of meteorological origin. Tsunamis and meteotsunamis propagate in the water in the same way and have the same coastal dynamics. In other words, for an observer on the coast where it strikes the two types would look the same. The difference is in their source only. One definition of a meteotsunami is as an atmospherically generated large amplitude seiche oscillation.

These tsunami-like ocean waves are principally caused by travelling air pressure disturbances, including those associated with atmospheric gravity waves, roll clouds, pressure jumps, frontal passages, and squalls, which normally generate barotropic ocean waves in the open ocean and amplify them near the coast through specific resonance mechanisms.[3] In contrast to "ordinary" impulse-type tsunami sources, a travelling atmospheric disturbance normally interacts with the ocean over a limited period of time (from several minutes to several hours). Once a wave has enough energy to travel to the shore, it needs to hit a bottle-shaped ("V" neck) harbor to be funneled in and rise in height.[1]

Devastation wrought by Hurricane Ike's meteotsunamic storm surge over the Bolivar Peninsula in 2008.

These types of waves are common all over the world and are better known by their local names: rissaga (Catalan), milghuba (Maltese), marrobbio (Italian), abiki (Japanese).

Meteotsunami associated with tropical cyclones storm surges[4] can be particularly destructive, typically arriving shortly after landfall of the storm's eye.[5][6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Becky Oskin (December 12, 2012). "Freak 'Meteotsunamis' Can Strike On A Sunny Day". Huffington Post. Retrieved August 6, 2013. 
  2. ^ Tsunami Glossary 2008, UNESCO
  3. ^ Tia Ghose (August 6, 2013). "Bizarre 'Meteotsunami' Stirred Waves in UK". Yahoo! News, LiveScience. Retrieved August 6, 2013. 
  4. ^ Monserrat, S.; Vilibíc I. & Rabinovich A.B, (2006). "Meteotsunamis: atmospherically induced destructive ocean waves in the tsunami frequency band". Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 6 (6): 1035–1051. doi:10.5194/nhess-6-1035-2006. Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
  5. ^ "Ike's Texas-Sized Tales Of Survival". CBS News. 17 September 2008. Retrieved 19 December 2013. ""It was like an atomic bomb going off. Right after the eye passed, whole houses came by us at 30 miles an hour."" 
  6. ^ Eyewitness video of Supertyphoon Haiyan's meteotsunamic storm surge on November 6, 2013

External links[edit]