Most everyone's familiar with the word tsunami; Japanese for "harbor wave" -- certainly not a word often used when talking about waves on Lake Michigan.

Unlike normal waves caused by wind patterns and tides, tsunamis are caused by the displacement of water. This is usually caused by an earthquake or in rare cases, a meteorite impact.

On the Great Lakes, we don't have earthquakes and space debris is pretty rare for any spot on the globe, but water displacement still occurs, just a much smaller scale. Great Lakes tsunamis are the result of drastic changes in pressure typically associated with very intense storms packing strong winds.

Those sustained strong winds essentially pile the water up onto one side of the lake producing monster waves.

Those waves have been termed "meteotsunamis." Meteo -- short for meteorology in this case, meaning it's driven by weather.

The University of Michigan's Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research (CIGLR) is currently hosting a Meteotsunami Summit through Wednesday, June 21. They've invited "25 experts from around the world to lay the groundwork for developing a real-time meteotsunami warning system for the Great Lakes," according to their website.

WZZM publishes daily Lake Michigan forecasts both online and on our mobile app during the warmer months. You may access that information here.

Alana Nehring is a meteorologist at WZZM 13. You can contact her by email at, or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.