How Do Tsunamis Form?

Tsunamis have been in the headlines lately but do you know exactly how they form? Meteorologist Josh Fitzpatrick has the interesting details!

We've all seen the horrific images from Japan when a massive tsunami hit the coast after one of the strongest earthquakes on record stuck!

I've had some e-mails from blog readers asking me how tsunamis form and what all causes them.

First let me define what a tsunami is.  A tsunami is a series of waves generated in an ocean or other body of water by a disturbance such as an earthquake, landslide, volcanic eruption, or meteorite impact.

Undersea earthquakes, which typically occur at boundaries between Earth’s tectonic plates, cause the water above to be moved up or down. Tsunami waves are formed as the displaced water, which acts under the influence of gravity, attempts to find a stable position again.

Undersea landslides, which can be caused by large earthquakes, can also cause tsunami waves to form as water attempts to find a stable position.

Undersea volcano eruptions can create enough force to uplift the water generate a tsunami.

Asteroid impacts would disturb the water from above, as momentum from falling debris is transferred to the water causing a wave.

The west Coast of the U.S., Hawaii and Alaska are the most vulnerable and most likely areas to have a tsunami as earthquakes are more common there.

Keep those great questions coming.  Post your weather questions and or comments in the comment section below.

Thanks for reading!

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