Tropical cyclone rainbands can trigger meteotsunamis

Luming Shi, Maitane Olabarrieta, David S. Nolan, John C. Warner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Tropical cyclones are one of the most destructive natural hazards and much of the damage and casualties they cause are flood-related. Accurate characterization and prediction of total water levels during extreme storms is necessary to minimize coastal impacts. While meteotsunamis are known to influence water levels and to produce severe consequences, their impacts during tropical cyclones are underappreciated. This study demonstrates that meteotsunami waves commonly occur during tropical cyclones, and that they can contribute significantly to total water levels. We use an idealized coupled ocean–atmosphere–wave numerical model to analyze tropical cyclone-induced meteotsunami generation and propagation mechanisms. We show that the most extreme meteotsunami events are triggered by inherent features of the structure of tropical cyclones: inner and outer spiral rainbands. While outer distant spiral rainbands produce single-peak meteotsunami waves, inner spiral rainbands trigger longer lasting wave trains on the front side of the tropical cyclones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number678
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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