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Weekly blog: Tsunami's Moment of Impact; Letter From Jetty Survivors (Modified)

(Above: Tsunami hits. South jetty goes under. Below: Detail from photo shows victim in blue shirt about to go under.

Below: Detail from photo. Portion of New South Jetty tip getting crushed by wave, spray plume is 15 to 20 feet. 

The Fish Story

Tsunami’s Moment of Impact; Letter From Jetty Survivors

I might have to rename this column the Tsunami Times.

Some really cool tidal wave tales are included down below, including a detailed letter from the folks nailed hardest by the bone-breaking waves.

I’ll start with the latest news – to go along with the exclusive moment-of-impact photo in this column space.

AMAZING TSUNAMI UPDATE: AMAZING TSUNAMI UPDATE: So, I get this phone call, appropriately out of the blue, from Donna Dotts of Pottstown. She and her husband, Jeff, just happened to have witnessed the Barnegat Inlet tsunami and – are you ready for this? – snapped a photo just as the tsunamis were hitting the New South Jetty. 

See how observant you are? You saw my plurality shift from tsunami to tsunamis.

I’ve been salivating over her spot-on shot – enlarging and cropping the high-res image. I assuredly see more than one wave impacting the area near the inlet entrance, point zero for the (now) Barnegat Inlet Tsunami event.

On closer photo inspection, the unslight matter of wave size arises. Based on the overwash I see bustin’ loose in the pic – these jacked-up walls of water are way larger than I had imagined. I’m saying a minimum size of 6.5 feet, realizing that means a 6.5-foot rise in sea level at the point of impact. As you know, tsunamis are sea level rises. They’re like normal waves on planetary steroids. I think that makes sense.

Truth be told, one might be able to go mano-a-mano with the amount of whitewater seen scouring the jetty in this photo. But, what we’re seeing here is the entire ocean level heaving up and in no mood to take prisoners, as it runs its demolition course. The waves are clearly taking it out on the rocks that dare to stand in the way. Proof of this is the 20-foot spray plume exploding off the end of the new South Jetty. Take it from a lifelong surfer like myself, a hit like that marks an epically muscular impact.

Spookily, on the jetty across the foreground, you can just see a hapless, still-standing, victim trying, to the bitter end, to stand up against the oceanic onslaught. Not a prayer, my hospital-bound friend. I’m not being overly dramatic by saying there could have easily been fatalities here.

Getting a tad more technical, if you look at the photo, in the right side foreground, you’ll see the rocky remain of the old South Jetty. I swear that area looks sucked out, as happens when water recedes prior to a tsunami landfall. The wave action has yet to reach there. A couple other witnesses report water moving rapidly outward right before the waves moved in.

Bank on this: There is absolutely no way the swell that day could come close to producing waves even one-quarter the size of those seen muscling the inlet entrance. In fact, to quote Donna – and repeat the exact same sentiments of all other witnesses – “It looked so calm in the inlet that day. It wasn’t bad at all.”

I want to send a Mann-ly thumbs up to Donna and her husband, who both rushed over to help the jetty victims. Donna cleaned up the bleeding legs of the young boy and her husband gave him a sweatshirt. “I hugged the boy because he was shivering so hard,” she told me, adding that the youngster was worried for his dad, who was, in fact, badly injured (see letter below).

Echoing what I had written last week, Donna couldn’t believe how quickly the emergency folks were on scene. “We were a long way down the beach and they still got there so fast.”

Those are my boys – and girls. Great work, A-Company.

BACKTRACKING A BIT: Turns out the Barnegat Inlet tsunami(s) is being doubly and triply reviewed and confirmed. Even the world’s tsunami headquarters in Alaska has given its tentative seal of tsunami approval to the utterly odd wave event that hit Barnegat Inlet on June 13.

The most compelling, quantifiable evidence has arrived from over 30 tidal gauges that all picked up spike signatures unique to tsunamis. The Dotts’ photo might trump all those charts.

Per the National Weather Service, “The (tsunami) source is complex and still under review, though the coincidence at several tide gauges with strong atmospheric pressure fluctuations indicate that it is at least partly generated by meteorological causes.”

I garnered a little too much credit for breaking the tsunami story when it was actually my buddies contacting me – and having to convince me that something as unlikely as a once-called “tidal wave” had hit a watery area I know inside out. I ran with their reliability and it’s playing out very nicely, T-Y very much.

For me, the huge “hit” response on www.jaymanntoday.ning.com was as weird as the tsunami. Seems people love stuff like this.

What I love is what I want to share with you now. A first-hand tsunami – and aftereffects – letter from the folks most directly impacted by the wave. Very cool read.

THEY WERE THERE!: Dear Jay, I want to thank you for your article about the meteotsunami that hit Barnegat on June 13th. All the information you collected and reported helped give some closure to my husband and I. He is the one that reported “a huge wave out of nowhere” after being punished by that wave off the Barnegat Lighthouse jetty. My husband’s name is Edward “Ted” Henrick. He has been coming to LBI his entire life. He would have never taken my 10-year-old son out on those rocks if there was any question that he’d be in danger. He was only continuing a tradition that his grandfather used to do with him as a kid, finding conch shells and searching for starfish.

Ted, my son and a good friend were out on the jetty for over 30 minutes. Not one splash of water anywhere near them. They were just about to make their way back in, when a bird caught their attention. Ted walked farther out to get a picture, when the wall of water picked him up and slammed him on the rocks. He remembers holding his head trying to protect it as he was getting tossed and turned and swept out into the ocean. My son was about 20 yards farther in. He was also hit but fell between two big rocks. His leg was stuck as the water went overhead (which I think saved him from any injury). He got himself loose and remembers bobbing up and down under water, screaming for help. My husband’s friend was 20 yards farther in and remembers seeing the wave about to hit Ted and tried to call out to him but it was too late. He said the wave was over Ted’s head. They were all swept out into the ocean on the beach side of the jetty where they were able to swim to shore. A passing couple called 911. My son said to me, “My teeth were chattering so hard, Mom. I didn’t feel cold, but I must have been cold. The man gave me his sweatshirt right off his back. Who does that?” I told him that he was one of the many angels that helped him that day.

My husband’s injuries were pretty bad, including broken ribs and a collapsed lung. He had to be flown by helicopter to Jersey Shore University Medical Center. My son was taken by ambulance to SOCH. Ted asked his friend to watch over our son since they were being separated. My son was hysterical while strapped into the gurney in the back of the ambulance, afraid for his dad. His friend told him to close his eyes and take a few deep breaths. My son said he just closed his eyes and BOOM! The ambulance was hit by a car. My son was ok since he was strapped in, but the EMT and our close friend were just sitting on the bench in the back and were tossed around and got pretty banged up.

How does all of this happen in one day? What are the odds of something like this? Are you kidding me? You can’t make this stuff up! My son said to me, “Mom, I was almost killed twice in one day!” I told him, “No, you survived twice in one day.” My son only had a cut on his knee and a bruise on his cheek. One of the first responding officers even came to our relative’s home in Surf City the next day to check on him and tell him how brave he was. That meant so much to him, and to my family. My husband, Ted, is still recovering at a hospital close to our home …

Thank you again for your story. I wanted to share ours with you. Sincerely, Tracy Henrick.

ANOTHER FUN READ: And I got this message:

Thanks so much for your article on the big wave that hit Barnegat Light. I witnessed the whole thing when we went for a walk on the beach after the storm. It was quite scary. I scoured the Internet for a news report and even checked a page that records all the day’s earthquakes around the world. Needless to say, I came up empty handed. I spoke to some of the volunteer emergency personnel to ask what the sirens were about and they said some people had fallen off the jetty, but treated it like they must have been from out of town and didn’t know what they were doing. I told them my tale of the monster wave and they didn’t seem to believe me. Armed with some new search words, I checked the Internet again only to find the story about the ambulance accident.
Your article proves I’m not crazy. Thanks again. Geoff Weiser.

IN THE TSUNAMI’S WAKE: I sure got a ton of agreement with the concept that we’ve been getting bombarded with a slew of oddities from sky, sea and earth. Are they signs? Yep. They’re sure signs that we’ve been getting bombarded with a slew of oddities from sky, sea and earth. Until it starts raining kangaroos, I’m holding off on getting overly cosmic and stuff.

I am still accepting first-hand accounts of that tsunami day.

Views: 4406

Comment by jaymann on June 25, 2013 at 7:25pm

Thanks tor B.C. and J.M. for helping me get a better read on the photo. Now even better work can be done to enhance the photo. If you see any messages in the photo let me know. It there possibly a third wave forming outside? 

Comment by Stacy Kline on June 25, 2013 at 10:52pm
Thank you for providing the detailed post and pictures. I'm glad everyone is ok. The weather has been "weird" there latey... When walking I feel cold sea winds then stifling hot pockets of air. Odd is right.
Comment by Dave Nederostek on June 26, 2013 at 8:41pm

A picture as to what that jetty normally looks like would be nice for comparison.

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