With yesterday’s storms, Lake Superior did that thing that Lake Superior does so well: It got angry.
It was good timing, coming as it does on a day researchers said there are “tsuanamis” on Superior, according to today’s Duluth News Tribune.
Meteotsunamis can create waves that peak up to 18 feet tall when they reach shallow water, according to researchers Adam Bechle and Chin Wu at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who tell the News Tribune that several disasters on the lake may well have been from the tsunamis.
Wu happened to witness a meteotsunami on the St. Louis River estuary while he was working on an unrelated project on June 29, 2015. As a storm front passed overhead, Wu photographed what he estimated was a 2-foot high meteotsunami rise in water level beyond the smaller waves on the surface.
Wu said he was in a boat just off Duluth’s Raleigh Street.
“The water was calm at 11 a.m. Around 11:20 a.m. a squall line storm with wind of approximately 31 mph and a rapid jump in atmospheric pressure” hit the area, Wu told the News Tribune. The boat he was in was pushed toward the Wisconsin shore and “within two minutes the water levels” went up about 2 feet in addition to the choppy waves spurred by the wind.
Keep this in mind the next time you go watch the big waves: Some of the disasters the researchers cited were tsunami waves sweeping people into the lake from their onshore perches.