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Rare meteotsunami slams into Praia do Cassino in Rio Grande, Brazil

meteotsunami-praia-do-cassino-rio-grande-brazil

In a rare occurrence, a meteotsunami hit the Praia do Cassino Beach in the southernmost region of the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul on March 14, 2020. The rapid waves slammed into nearby vehicles, causing beachgoers to panic and run away to safety.

Powerful ocean waves started charging fast, washing away cars parked on a sandy strip. The vehicles then floated but eventually settled on the sands when the waters subsided.

The raging waters also caused a scramble on the popular beach, as people were seen running from the waves.

According to Kazhydromet, a decrease in atmospheric pressure of 1 mm (0.04 inches) triggers an increase of sea level of 13 mm (0.5 inches)– such conditions are attribute of a cyclone.

If it does not fill up and shift for a long period, its center– where there is minimal pressure– creates a semblance of small water hill. With a sharp filling of the cyclone, the hill under the gravity's influence rapidly settles, forming waves.

"It's not the same tsunami triggered by earthquakes, but it does have similar characteristics," the Weather Channel explained. "The strong winds and air pressure disturbances can sometimes generate a wall of water," it added.

The site noted that meteotsunamis can be difficult to predict as sometimes, waves can be so small that they are undetectable. However, it is also possible for a meteotsunami to cause quite some damage.

According to NOAA, about 25 meteotsunamis occur along the East Coast every year, most are less than 0.5 m (1.5 feet) high and relatively harmless. 

NOAA also said that only about one meteotsunami wave surpasses 0.6 m (2 feet) in height, which is big enough to cause the destruction and injuries experienced in New Jersey in 2013.

Praia do Cassino Beach is the longest beach in the world, stretching up to around 241 km (150 miles).

Featured image credit: MetSul Meteorologia/YouTube

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