If you've seen the movie Hereafter, you have a great sense of a really big tsunami. I saw my own little tsunami this morning.
A big laker came in off Lake Superior and through the Duluth ship canal. These thousand-footers push a lot of water in front of them; it's not like they're designed all sleek for speed.
I was on the beach next to the piers. Even though the boat was on the other side, the push of water from its bow when it was still in open water was moving along the outside of the pier wall as the boat moved along the inside. The day was calm, few other waves, and here came this virtual wake. It was a single pulse of wave headed nearly straight for shore.
Sure enough, the water drew back from the beachline before the big wave hit. Mighty Lake Superior herself pulled back 10-15 feet from shore, exposing sand flats. In a disaster movie, that's when the unsuspecting, doomed tourists wander out on the sea floor. Fortunately, Hereafter didn't show that part. On the trailer below from YouTube, fast forward to 1:25 or so for the big wave.
Then the big wave came, and it flooded up on top of the frozen beach, pushing a wall of water 10-15 feet inland. The big wave paused, then sluiced back. The frozen rim of the beach turned into a wide cascade as Lake Superior rushed back down to her place.
In Hereafter, the female star of the movie drowns in the tsunami, only to be brought back to life, a life now changed forever. She is seen in the movie, at peace in the flow of the water.
Seeing my little tsunami brought that eerie, sad, provocative movie back. In a good, little way.