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‘Mini-tsunami’ strikes Wickford Harbor

June 29, 2013

The ‘mini-tsunami’ struck the docks along Wickford Harbor on June 13, damaging two boats. The event was supposedly caused by a weather phenomenon called a ‘derecho,’ or blast of high winds. (Standard Times File Photo)

Scientists say event caused by weather phenomenon termed a ‘derecho’

NORTH KINGSTOWN—When one hears the word ‘tsunami,’ dramatic images of devastated coastlines and rushing surges of sea water come to mind. Although less damaging than the tsunamis that struck Indonesia in 2004 or Japan in 2011, Wickford Harbor was struck by a so-called ‘mini tsunami’ earlier this month, and local scientists have been trying to figure out the cause.

Chuck Ebersole, a member of the Wickford Yachting Club, witnessed the mini-tsunami first hand on June 13 when the tide began to sweep out of Wickford Harbor.
“I was located in the yacht club here speaking with a member when I noticed the current flowing very strongly out at low tide,” said Ebersole. “At that point, we heard a big bang and one of the boats had pulled out of the dock and was pulling out with the current.”
Ebersole estimated that the current was flowing out at five to seven knots. Moments later, Ebersole watched as the tide came rushing back in.
“Fifteen minutes after the whole thing started, the current switched and came back into the dock,” said Ebersole. “The boat went perpendicular to the dock, we cut the line with help of guys from the Pleasant Street Marina, and this variation in and out occurred four to six hours after that, gradually decreasing.”
Wickford Harbormaster Ed Hughes was astonished at the wave action that the mini-tsunami caused, stating that he had never seen such a phenomenon in Wickford Harbor before.

For the rest of this story and more local news, pick up the June 27 issue of the Standard Times.

Southern Rhode Island Newspapers
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