A record killer wave of 58 feet has been recorded off the coast of Vancouver Island in Canada.
It was tracked in November 2020, and the water wall’s record-breaking nature was only confirmed by scientists earlier this month.
To give an idea of its size, scientists say it was three times as tall as any other wave that surrounded it, and these huge proportions make it the most extreme rogue wave ever recorded.
The height of a wave as high as a four-story building was measured by a buoy floating in the open ocean, capable of tracking certain movements caused by such currents.
Although higher waves were recorded elsewhere in the world, this one broke records compared to others seen in the area at the time. Its size is said to be rare, occurring once every 1,300 years, making it the most extreme killer wave ever recorded.
The wave was measured with a MarineLabs buoy approximately 4.3 miles off the coast of Uclelet, British Columbia. There were no reports of damage as a result of the wave hitting the land or the sea.
A killer wave was recorded off the coast of Vancouver Island, Canada in 2020. The photo shows part of the video simulation from the MarineLabs buoy and mooring during a record wave.
The open ocean buoy calculated that the wave was 58 feet high, about four stories high, while the other waves surrounding it peaked at about 20 feet.
The wave was measured with a MarineLabs buoy approximately 4.3 miles off the coast of Uklulet, Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
“Only a few killer waves have been directly observed in open sea conditions, and nothing of this magnitude. The probability of such an event is one in 1,300 years,” Johannes Gemmrich told CNN.
“Rogues”, also known as “extreme storm surges”, are typically twice the size of the surrounding waves and can be highly unpredictable as they often come from directions other than the prevailing winds or waves.
“To put it simply, a killer wave is really just a wave that is large compared to the surrounding wave field,” Gemmrich explained.
The wave was measured in November 2020, but it has only now been confirmed in a study published earlier this month.
The MarineLabs sensor buoy that detected the record killer wave off the coast of Ucluleta, British Columbia was the most extreme killer wave ever recorded.
At 58 feet high, the wave would stand out from the surrounding waves, which were about 20 feet high.
Gemmrich noted that while the overall size of the wave doesn’t really matter, it is her size compared to other wives that makes her “fraudulent” and, in this particular case, a record.
“Most observations are made from one buoy, in one place, so the wave passes, and we know that at the moment it was so high, but we do not know for how long. This is a big scientific question,” Gemmrich said.
Waves are rarely seen in person, but a network of buoys in the ocean can tell if such conditions are encountered.
“They look like a big four-story block sticking out of the water with a big top and big troughs in front of it,” said Scott Beatty, CEO of MarineLabs, the company that operates the buoy that measures the wave.
This rugged MarineLabs solar-powered ocean sensor (pictured center) turns any float into a real-time data station. The sensors are attached to the buoys, as shown in the photo, before they are deployed in the water.
“We are a real-time intelligence company and we provide real-time updates on what is happening along the coastline, including wind, wave and other data,” he explained.
The animation clearly shows how the wave would have moved the buoy as it passed and detailed the swell of the ocean compared to the smaller waves surrounding it.
Beatty says the waves can pose a significant threat to boats in the area, and it’s their sheer unpredictability that also makes them such a hazard.
MarineLabs currently has 26 buoys in the oceans around North America and plans to more than double their range by the end of the year.
“We are committed to enhancing safety and improving decision-making for maritime operations and coastal communities by measuring the world’s coastlines on a large scale,” Beatty said.
The wave was measured with a MarineLabs buoy approximately 4.3 miles off the coast of Uclelet, British Columbia. No damage was reported from the wave.
“They are unexpected, so the vessel operator has few warnings. If it’s high enough to cause any damage to the ship, the operator doesn’t have time to change course or react to it.” Said Gemmrich, who also noted that there is a difference between rogue waves and tsunamis.
“Killer waves are generated by the wind, so it’s just a rare occurrence of wind generated waves. While tsunamis are most often triggered by an earthquake, an undersea earthquake or, as we saw recently, a volcanic eruption, Gemmrich explained, coastal communities are everywhere vulnerable to rogue waves.
Killer waves can be up to 100 feet high and are “exceptionally dangerous”.
Killer waves are exceptionally powerful and dangerous.
Waves are spontaneous and can reach heights of up to 100 feet.
Killer waves are often called “extreme storm surges” by scientists.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the waves are more than twice the size of the surrounding waves, are very unpredictable, and often come unexpectedly from different directions.
Oceanic phenomena often feature steep slopes with unusually deep troughs.
Rogue waves propagate much more over open water than waves around it and are often referred to as “freak waves”.
Killer waves large enough to damage a ship or cause a ship to roll more than normal are called “killer waves” because if severe enough, the damage can capsize the ship, potentially killing people.
They are difficult to predict, often appear suddenly without warning, and are generally considered the likely causes of maritime disasters such as the sinking of large ships.