It is really hard to believe that it has been nearly 20 years since that massive tsunami slammed into the beaches of the Indian Ocean.  The earthquake caused wave, which happened on December 26th of 2004, was about 100 feet high when it slammed into the beaches of several countries.

The beachfront resorts were not only packed with locals, but also thousands of tourists visiting for the long Christmas Holiday.  An estimated 223,000 people were killed by the disaster.

Could something like this ever happen in Maine, New Hampshire, or the other New England states?


What Causes A Tsunami?

For those who do not know, a tsunami is a large, fast moving, wave.  They often causes a tremendous loss of life and do massive damage when they slam on shore.  The term tsunami originates from the Japanese words tsu (harbor) and nami (wave).

They are often caused by an underwater disturbance that displaces a large volume of water.  Earthquakes, underwater volcanic eruptions, and underwater landslides, for example.

Initially, the waves are deep underwater and move EXTREMELY fast.  They slow down slightly as they rise out of the water, but are still moving at a dozen miles an hour.  They also have been known to rise up to 100 feet out of the water!

One of the largest ever recorded happened in the 1950s in Alaska.  It had a runup of nearly 1,800 feet!

Todd Turner / Unsplash
Todd Turner / Unsplash

Could Maine Ever Be Hit By A Tsunami?

Like the other New England states, Maine has coastline on the Atlantic Ocean.  Because of this, yes, the state could see a tsunami.

In fact, in the recent past, the State of Maine has fallen victim to several tsunamis.  A very small one hit Maine in 1872.  That tsunami only caused the water level to rise by about 50 centimeters.  Then, in 1926, a much larger wave slammed into Mount Desert Island.  That wave was measured at around 10 feet.  It caused flooding in Bass Harbor, but no injuries were reported.

According to the State of Maine website, the chances of Maine getting slammed by a serious tsunami are slim.  One of the Maine reasons is that our part of the Atlantic Ocean is much less active (tectonically and volcanically) that the Pacific Ocean or Indian Ocean.

Additionally, the Gulf of Maine's shallow depth will likely cause any incoming waves to mostly dissipate before they come on shore.


Take A Deep Breath

So, yes, it is possible that Maine could see a tsunami, but it is not all that likely.  And, even if we did get hit with one, it probably would not be that destructive.

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