Meteotsunamis in the
Laurentian Great Lakes
Forecast, and Warning
can pose a serious threat to the Great
Lakes coast, owing to the lake’s
characteristics that facilitate the formation of
destructive meteotsunamis including frequent
fast-moving storm fronts, resonance-promoting
bathymetry, and harbors to finally amplify the wave.
The most vivid historical meteotsunami on record in
the Lake Michigan occurred in 1954,
a squall line-induced wave struck Chicago in Lake
Michigan. The coast was inundated up to 50 meters
inland and unexpectedly swept many fishermen off of
the Montrose Harbor piers, killing seven. While the
threat of meteotsunamis in Lake Michigan has been
recognized, to date no infrastructure for detecting
and warning of a pending meteotsunami disaster is
available. Recently the potential hot spots in Lake
Michigan that can be threatened by meteotsunamis has
been identified and characterized.
Meteotsunamis have also observed in Lake
Superior and Lake
Erie. In collaboration researchers in Great Lakes
Environmental Research Laboratory and Prairie
Research Institute at the University of Illinois
at Urbana-Champaign, we are
implementing an observation network system to better
understand the occurrence of meterotsunamis. An
operational meteotsunami forecasting and warning
system is also being developed to keep
residents safe and avoid dangerous events. Further
efforts on meteotsunami research, education,
outreach can be found in the following links:
15-minute storm caused Lake Michigan rip
currents that killed 7 hours later, Sheboygan
Press, April 29, 2019.
Michigan’s deadly ‘freak wave’ of 1954 is
Chicago folklore. Turns out it was a
meteotsunami. And they happen pretty often.,
Chicago Tribune, April 25, 2019.
Water Events – Meteotsunami Vs. Seiche,
9and10new, April 25, 2019
forecasting efforts underway in light of
recent research, The Badger Herald, April 2,
Professor: Great Lakes Tsunamis Found To Spur
Rip Currents, Northland Outdoors, March 25,
pinpoint cause of deadly Lake Michigan rip
current, March 19, 2019
professor: Great Lakes tsunamis found to spur
rip currents, Superior Telegram. March 18,
discover that meteotsunamis can cause rip
currents, Univ. of Wisconsin-Sea Grant, March
Lakes tsunamis found to spur rip currents,
Duluth News Tribune, March 14, 2019
Lakes tsunamis found to spur rip currents,
Lake County News Chronicle, March 14, 2019
a Chance of Tsunami? Wisconsin Engineer,
a lesser known Great Lakes hazard, Daily
Mining Gazette, Nov. 2018.
Monitoring the menace in the Great Lakes,
August 25, 2018.
Waves on the Great Lakes – Meteotsunamis,
INFOSUPERIOR, August 2018.
Lakes Meteotsunami Experts Hone in on Big Wave
Forecasts, Environmental Monitoring, July
Skilling, Feb 2018, WGN9-TV, Chicago.
and danger of little known tsunami type
revealed, not quakes, Cosmos Magazine, Feb.
Weather Channel News; There’s a Type of
Tsunami on the Great Lakes You May Not Have
Heard of Before, Feb. 13, 2018
Lakes Threat: Meteotsunamis, Weather-Science,
Feb 13, 2018
on The Great Lakes? They happen — Sometimes
with deadly results, Detroit Free Press, Jan.
in the Great Lakes, The Manitoulin Expositor,
家研氣象海嘯預報-減大浪造成傷亡數目, June 24, 2017,
on the Great Lakes? Researchers are looking
into it, Toronto TheStar, June
- Tsunamis on the Great
Lakes? Researchers are looking into it,
CBC Morning Show,
June 26, 2017
météo-tsunami, un danger qui guette Grands
Lakes Tsunamis Coming? Great Lakes Echo,
June 25, 2017
find meteotsunamis are an underrated hazard in
the Great Lakes, Wisconsin State Farmer,
Produce Tsunami-like Waves in the Great Lakes,
ISWS, May 2016.
Sea Grant Study Reveals Cause of Monster Waves
on Lake Michigan, UW-Sea Grant, April 2016
on Superior? Minnesota Public Radio, April
find tsunamis on the Great Lakes, Mlive, April
discover 'tsunamis' on Great Lakes, Duluth
News Tribune April 2016
from the sky: Can meteotsunamis be forecast?
Earth Magazine, 2012
'Meteotsunamis' Can Strike On a Sunny Day,
Live Science, December 2012.
- Meteotsunamis, Coastal
Engineering Project, 2010
- Linares, A., Wu, C.H., Bechle, A.J., Anderson,
J.A., and Kristovich, D.A, Unexpected rip
currents induced by a meteotsunami, Scientific
- Linares, A., Wu, C.H., Anderson, J.A., Chu,
P.Y., Role of meteorologically-induced
water level oscillations on bottom shear stress
in freshwater estuaries in the Great Lakes. J.
Geophysical Research-Oceans, In Press, doi:10.1029/2017JC013741,
- Bechle, A.J., Wu, C.H., David A.R. Kristovich,
D.A., Anderson, E.J., Schwab, D.J., Rabinovich,
A.B., 2016. Meteotsunamis in the Laurentian
Great Lakes, Scientific
6, 37832, doi:10.1038/srep37832.
- Linares, A., Bechle, A.J., and Wu,C.H., 2016,
Characterization and Assessment of the
meteotsunami hazard in northern Lake Michigan, Journal
of Geophysical Research-Oceans, 121(9),
- Bechle, A.J., Kristovich, D.A, and Wu, C.H.,
2015. Meteotsunami Occurrences and Causes in
Lake Michigan, Journal
of Geophysical Research-Oceans, 120
- Anderson, E.J., Bechle, A.J., Wu, C.H.,
Schwab, D.J., Mann, G. and Lombardy, K. 2015.
Reconstruction of a meteotsunami in Lake Erie on
May 27, 2012: Role of atmospheric conditions on
hydrodynamic response in enclosed basins, Journal
of Geophysical Research-Oceans,120(12),
- Bechle, A.J. and Wu, C.H., 2014. The Lake
Michigan meteotsunamis of 1954 Revisited. Natural