Twenty-Seven Years of Progress in the Science of Meteorological Tsunamis Following the 1992 Daytona Beach Event

  • Alexander B. RabinovichEmail author


Meteorological tsunamis (“meteotsunamis”) are hazardous tsunami-like waves of atmospheric origin. They have typical periods from a few minutes to about 3 h and typical spatial scales from a few hundred meters to approximately 100–150 km. The waves have different local names in different regions of the world: “rissaga” in the Balearic Islands (Spain), “marrobbio” in Sicily (Italy), “šćiga” in the Adriatic Sea (Croatia), “milghuba” in Malta, and “abiki” in Japan. Meteotsunamis have markedly different generation mechanisms than storm surge or rogue waves, and are mainly produced by direct air pressure forcing. Several recent destructive meteotsunami events have attracted considerable attention to the phenomenon. The present paper is one of the first attempts to classify and overview the strongest events. A total of 51 selected events over the past 27 years are examined and described. Some of these events are well known (e.g. the events of 4 July 1992 Daytona Beach, Florida, 15 June 2006 Ciutadella Harbour, Spain, and 13 June 2013 East Coast of USA), while others have only been mentioned in the media and on the Internet. The list of events includes those that have occurred in the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Great Lakes, South Africa, the USA, Canada, Brazil, the Netherlands and other countries and regions. All meteotsunami events are separated into four groups: “Good-weather harbour”, “Good-weather open-coast”, “Bad-weather harbour (storm seiches)” and “Bad-weather open-coast”. “Good-weather” meteotsunamis are most typical for the Mediterranean region, while “bad-weather” events mainly occur on the Atlantic coasts of the USA and Europe.


Meteotsunami tide gauge records tsunami-like waves rissaga marrobbio abiki šćiga seiches harbour oscillations Proudman resonance 



The original idea for this overview of meteorological tsunamis was suggested to the author by Emile Okal (Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA). In fact, the present paper can be considered as a continuation of his overview of seismically generated tsunamis for the period 1992–2018 (Okal 2019). Many of the contributions to meteotsunami research included in this overview were performed by the author in close cooperation with Sebastian Monserrat (University of the Balearic Islands, Palma de Mallorca, Spain), Ivica Vilibić and Jadranka Šepić (both at the Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries, Split, Croatia), and Richard Thomson and Isaac Fine (at the Institute of Ocean Sciences, Sidney, BC, Canada); their support, numerous useful discussions and the provision of data used in this overview are greatly appreciated. The author gratefully acknowledges Richard Thomson, Fred Stephenson (the Institute of Ocean Sciences, Sidney, BC, Canada), Ivica Vilibić and Emile Okal for valuable comments and suggestions. This work was partially supported by the Russian State Assignment of IO RAS #0149-2019-0005 and #0128-2019-0010, and by the FCT-funded project FAST (PTDC/CTA-MET/32004/2017).


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Ocean SciencesFisheries and Oceans CanadaSidneyCanada
  2. 2.P.P. Shirshov Institute of OceanologyRussian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussia

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