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Unexpected rip currents induced by a meteotsunami

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Abstract

A tragic drowning event occurred along southeastern beaches of Lake Michigan on a sunny and calm July 4, 2003, hours after a fast-moving convective storm had crossed the lake. Data forensics indicates that a moderate-height (~0.3 m) meteotsunami was generated by the fast-moving storm impacting the eastern coast of the lake. Detailed Nearshore Area (DNA) modeling forensics on a high-resolution spatial O(1 m) grid reveals that the meteotsunami wave generated unexpected rip currents, changing the nearshore condition from calm to hazardous in just a few minutes and lasting for several hours after the storm. Cross-comparison of rip current incidents and meteotsunami occurrence databases suggests that meteotsunamis present severe water safety hazards and high risks, more frequently than previously recognized. Overall, meteorological tsunamis are revealed as a new generation mechanism of rip currents, thus posing an unexpected beach hazard that, to date, has been ignored.

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Linares, Á., Wu, C. H., Bechle, A. J., Anderson, E. J., & Kristovich, D. A. R. (2019). Unexpected rip currents induced by a meteotsunami. Scientific Reports, 9(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-38716-2

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