Meteotsunamis are atmospherically forced ocean waves with characteristics similar to seismic tsunamis. Several recent hazardous meteotsunamis resulted in damage and injuries along U.S. coastlines, such that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is investigating ways to detect and forecast meteotsunamis to provide advance warning. Better understanding meteotsunami occurrence along U.S. coastlines is a necessary step to pursue these objectives. Here a meteotsunami climatology of the U.S. East Coast is presented. The climatology relies on a wavelet analysis of 6-min water-level observations from 125 NOAA tide gauges from 1996 to 2017. A total of 548 meteotsunamis, or about per year, were identified and assessed using this approach along the U.S. East Coast. There were a total of 30 instances when gauges observed waves of more than 0.6 m, which is assumed to be a potentially impactful event, and several cases with wave heights more than 1 m. Tide gauges along the open coast observed the most frequent events, including more than five events per year at Atlantic City, New Jersey; Duck, North Carolina; and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The largest waves were observed by gauges in estuaries that amplified the meteotsunami signal, such as those in Providence, Rhode Island, and Port Canaveral, Florida. Seasonal trends indicate that meteotsunamis occur most frequently in the winter and summer months, especially July. This work supports future meteotsunami detection and warning capabilities at NOAA, including the development of an impact catalog to aid National Weather Service forecasters.
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A supplement to this article is available online (10.1175/BAMS-D-18-0206.2).