By Matt Peterson

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It was an afternoon and evening of thunder, lightning and severe weather across most of the area on Tuesday. While most of New Jersey was not caught up in the worst of the strong and severe storms, a rare phenomena called a “Meteotsunami” occurred off the coast of Atlantic City Tuesday night.

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If you are not familiar with the idea of a meteotsunami do not be alarmed. Many of us in the weather community aren’t familiar with them either. This is due to the extreme rarity with which they occur as well as the fact that they are a relatively new phenomena within the weather community.


What Is A Meteotsunami?

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So what exactly is a meteotsuanmi? The National Weather Service defines a meteotsunami as a large wave that is driven by air pressure changes associated with fast-moving weather systems. A fast-moving system that could spawn one of these waves are severe thunderstorms (like we had off the coast on Tuesday), squall lines or other fronts. The waves move toward the shore, and are usually amplified by a shallow continental shelf, inlet, bay, or some other coastal feature. At times these waves have been reported to be as high as 6 feet or even higher. The good news for us yesterday was we did not see anything that high in the region. Now that we know what we are talking about we can dive into what happened off the coast of New Jersey on Tuesday night.

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At 10 p.m. on Tuesday, the ocean buoy off the coast of Atlantic City reported some strange readings. At a time when water and the tide should have been heading out to sea there was a reading of a water level rise. From 10 p.m. to 10:12 p.m. the water level rose from 3.79 feet to 4.59 feet. That is a water level rise of just shy of 1 foot at a time when the tide is moving away from the shore.

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There were also a few other perturbations earlier in the night, likely caused by the front as it moved off shore, but the official time of the meteotsuanami is being reported as 10-10:12 p.m. As of right now there are no reports of flooding or damage issued caused by this phenomena but the National Weather Service is still cautioning residents of the Jersey Shore and Delaware beach communities to stay out of the water at least through this morning until the tides are calmer.