Tsunami Struck New Jersey In June: What Caused The Weather Phenomena? [VIDEO]

By Staff Reporter on June 26, 2013 8:08 AM EDT

Tsunami at Barnegat Inlet
A Tsunami struck New Jersey's Barnegat Inlet on Thursday, June 13. (Photo: Creative Commons)

A tsunami struck New Jersey on Thursday, June 13, indicated reports and data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

An extremely bizarre event, the tsunami was picked up by more than 30 tide gauges that were placed along the east coast, including areas of Bermuda and Puerto Rico. The highest peak amplitude was recorded by a tide gauge located in Newport, Rhode Island.

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Local New Jersey spearfisher Brian Coen witnessed a strong outrishof water as the tide went out and emptied the Barnegat Inlet, carrying divers over submerged rocks that serve as a breakwater. Next, a 6-foot wave hurled towards the coast and swept three people off a jetty and into the waters. Two received medical attention following the strange tidal behavior.

The West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center reported: "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."

"We're trying to piece this back together," said a puzzled Mike Angove, head of NOAA's tsunami program. The organization, which released a statement that officially categorized the wave that struck New Jersey as a tsunami, admitted that the cause of the event is "complex and under review."

Mike Angove presented possible causes for the tsunami that struck New Jersey on June 13. First, the incident may have been a tsunami caused by weather, also known as a rare meteotsunami. A strong storm moved through the region and offshore on June 13, causing scientists to investigate weather the well-timed weather system played a role in the tsunami. A second possibility is a possible landslide occurrence off the continental shelf. While Angove says the likelihood of shelf activity is less rare, it is still very uncommon.

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