Tsunami buoy off N.J. coast triggered “event mode” while undergoing maintenance

    An ocean tsunami buoy off the New Jersey coast was undergoing maintenance when it triggered an “event mode” over the weekend, a federal government official said.

    Buoy 44402, situated 130 nautical miles southeast of Fire Island, New York, registered a rapid ocean level drop around 6:30 p.m. Saturday, according to National Data Buoy Center data.

    Then 15 seconds later, the ocean level rose to 180 feet.

    But it wasn’t due to an earthquake, a meteor, or even a submarine, all of which the internet rumor mill generated since last night after a website not affiliated with the federal government reported the buoy data.

    • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

    Rather, according to the National Data Buoy Center (NDBC), the buoy was simply undergoing maintenance.

    An NDBC spokesperson tells NewsWorks that the maintenance triggered the buoy into “event mode,” which is consistent with the abnormal drop and rise in sea level near the buoy site.

    None of the nearby buoys registered a change in sea level, according to NDBC’s data. 

    Additional information will be released later today, the spokesperson added.

    WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal