What is a tsunami?
A tsunami (pronounced soo NAH mee) is a series of really, really big waves that crash into the shore.
The word tsunami is actually a Japanese word meaning "Harbor Wave"!
Tsunamis happen when a large amount of water is moved or displaced way out in the ocean. This can be caused by an earthquake under water, a landslide, volcanic eruptions, or even a meteor crashing into the ocean!
When the water is moved, it creates a wave that just keeps getting bigger and bigger and faster and faster. When this jumbo wave gets to the shore, it slows down and gets really high, making a wall of water that hits the coast- sometimes up to 100 feet high!
Sometimes there are warning signs like the ocean water receeding very far or when the ground is shaking. Seek high up areas such as hills or mountains if you can!
As you might imagine, such a big wave can be pretty dangerous and do lots of damage. It is pretty tricky for scientists to predict when they will happen, because tsunami waves aren't very high when they're way out in the ocean and it's hard to see them coming! Luckily, there are scientists working every day to better learn how to predict when tsunamis will happen and alert people so they can get out of the way.