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High Waves Inundate Marshall Islands

300 Displaced by High Waves, Homes Moved off Foundations. Several hundred people evacuated their homes Monday night after high waves flooded low-lying areas Monday evening — the third time in a week that high waves have inundated this coral atoll. Island residents were bracing for another onslaught of high waves and flooding Tuesday evening as government disaster officer officials warned that 10-12 foot swells could hit again at high tide at sunset. High waves first inundated some sections of Majuro last Tuesday, then hit again Sunday evening — both times coinciding with high tides, though the tides this month are significantly lower, at just over five feet, than peak high tides that often reach six or seven feet in February. The eastern coast of Majuro appeared to be hardest hit, with waves slamming seawalls and flooding onto the roads and into houses. Surprisingly, the high tide at 1:30 pm Tuesday was only slightly over four feet (1.2 meters) — nearly two feet less than when the highest tides traditionally hit in January and February. But the high tide coincided with high waves generated from a low-pressure weather system in the Wake Island area, about 500 miles (800 Km) north of Majuro. The low-pressure system that is moving west caused the nine-to-ten foot waves to roll in. The system went on to cause flash flooding throughout the Federated States of Micronesia. Island nations in the North and South Pacific struggled to cope with a new round of devastating tidal surges that brought severe flooding to low-lying regions over thousands of square miles.

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AUSTRALIA - The climate gods whipped up surf conditions on Sydney Harbour Monday thanks to a RARE PHENOMENON usually associated with hurricanes and cyclones. The freak waves at Fairlight Beach may have been due to "storm surges" after the recent storms that buffeted Australia's east coast. The last time Fairlight saw serious surf was in March 2006 when Tropical Cyclone Larry battered Queensland, bringing 2m swells to the tiny beach. Storm surges, or "king tides" in some parts of the world, occur when offshore low pressure systems and high winds combine to pile water up higher than the normal sea level. Typically produced by tropical hurricanes, major storm surges can be devastating.
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