Charles and Claire Davies, whose home overlooks Solva Harbor in Pembrokeshire, saw an “extraordinarily strong” tidal wave going the wrong way, which was declared a meteotsunami
(Credit: CHARLES DAVIES/MEDIA WALES)
A couple have told of an “extraordinarily strong” surf at a Welsh seaport that saw the tide reverse due to a rare phenomenon.
Charles and Claire Davies, whose home overlooks Solva Harbor in Pembrokeshire, saw what is known as the ‘Meteotsunami’ where the sea suddenly erupted in and out at high speed last Saturday.
“The water seemed to be flowing out of the harbor rather than in,” Charles said Wales Online.
“We started to see this strange occurrence where the water was going in and out and coming back in. This happened several times over the next fifteen minutes.”
The retired engineer, 69, continued: “There was a gentle northeast wind, the trees were barely moving, it was a beautiful sunny day. We expect storm surges, but we’ve never seen one in favorable conditions.
“We saw water coming in at seven knots, flowing out again and causing the boats to pitch quite dramatically. It created an area of swirling water, a eddy around the small headland.
“If people were swimming in the water or kayaking, it would have been a pretty serious event for them because an Olympic swimmer swims at five or six miles an hour and this water was moving considerably faster than that, I would say. They couldn’t have competed.”
Charles said the “extraordinarily strong” waves died down after about 15 minutes and in his 13 years of living in the area he said he had never seen anything like it.
But then a family member of Charles heard of a similar tidal event that took place in Cork at 2pm that same day.
A charter boat operator at Courtmacsherry Harbor said he could see the water was “heading the wrong way, it should have been coming in,” the reported Irish times.
He added: “The water poured out like a river. I had never seen anything like this before. The first thing that comes to mind is ‘tsunami,’ and to be honest, if it had gone any quicker we would have all been on our way for the hills.”
Experts believe the activity may have been caused by a meteotsunami – large waves driven by perturbations in air pressure and often associated with extreme weather events.
The oceanographer Dr. Gerard McCarthy told the Irish Examiner that Courtmacsherry was regularly affected by seiching, an oscillation of tidal currents – “basically water moves back and forth”.
He added: “My best guess is that this regular seiching coincided with a dramatic and sudden change in atmospheric pressure somewhere out over the Atlantic off the coast of West Cork.
“If you imagine someone dropping a large amount of water straight onto the ocean, that’s the kind of effect we’re talking about. This pressure combined with the regular swaying of the water in these bays could have created a dramatic and unusual effect that we have seen.”
The expert believes that the same atmospheric event could have impacted Wales and this explains Solva’s activity.
“It definitely had an impact, albeit less severe, further along the Irish coast at Wexford and there’s also evidence it’s being felt in Wales and Cornwall so that was quite a significant event,” he said.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/incredible-meteotsunami-sees-huge-tide-27315456 Incredible 'Meteotsunami' sees huge tide going the wrong way in Welsh Harbour