AN AMAZING FACT: Tsunamis are among the most destructive of natural disasters. This is due in part to the fact that much of the world’s population lives within a mile of the ocean. Tsunamis are sometimes called tidal waves, but they really have nothing to do with the tide. They are actually seismic sea waves caused by earthquakes, undersea landslides, volcanic eruptions, or even asteroids striking the ocean that results in a sudden colossal movement of the sea water.
Tsunamis can look like great, massive, towering waves or appear as quickly rising monster tides that surge in without warning. Out in the deep ocean a tsunami wave can travel at speeds over 500 mph. That’s as fast as a jet plane! These killer waves may be only a foot high in the deep ocean, and might not even be noticed by boats in the area, but as they reach shallow water the waves grow slower and taller, some to over 100 feet high!
Perhaps thousands of tsunamis occur all the time—the majority in the Pacific Ocean—but most are too small to even notice. But every few years, some seismic event will produce a large tsunami wave that kills thousands of people. The famous volcanic explosion of Krakatoa on August 27, 1883, generated terrifying tsunami waves that were up to 151 feet in height. These waves destroyed 295 towns and villages in Western Java and Southern Sumatra, and over 36,000 people were drowned.
The largest tsunami wave ever recorded in modern times was in Lituya Bay, Alaska, in 1958 and is described as a mega-tsunami. It was caused by a massive landslide triggered by an 8.3 magnitude earthquake. When the wave rushed across the bay it ran up the valley walls to a height of 1,720 feet.
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus said one of the signs of the end will be “distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring” (Luke 21:25). Natural disasters are increasing, signaling Earth’s grand finale. This could be a frightening scenario, but we don’t need to be afraid. In the words of Psalm 46, “God is our refuge and strength,” even if the mountains fall into the sea. As long as we have Jesus, we are safe.
KEY BIBLE TEXTS
And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Luke 21:25