The largest sinister wave ever observed swelled off British Columbia

New research confirms that a massive 58-foot swell that crashed into the waters off British Columbia, Canada in November 2020, was the largest “evil” wave ever recorded.

Scientists said that the wave of the monster, which struck off the coast of Vancouver Island, reached a height approximately equivalent to a four-story building. The wave properties are detailed in a study published on February 2 in Journal of Scientific Reports.

rogue waves They are unusually large bulges that occur in open water and grow to more than twice the height of other waves in their vicinity. These unpredictable and sometimes seemingly random events are known as “strange” or “killer” waves, and little is known about how they form.

In proportion to the surrounding waves, the 2020 event was “probably the most severe rogue wave ever recorded,” said Johannes Gemrich, a research scientist at the University of Victoria and lead author of the study.

“Only a few rogue waves in the high seas countries have been directly observed, and none of this magnitude,” he said He said in a statement. “The probability of such an event occurring once every 1,300 years.”

A video simulation of a Marine Labs buoy and mooring around the time of a record-breaking rogue wave was recorded off Ucluelet, British Columbia. Courtesy MarineLabs Data Systems

The massive bulge was captured by sensors on a buoy located just over 4 miles from Ucluelet, on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

For centuries, rogue waves were thought of as nautical legends, dismissed as exaggerated accounts cooked up by sailors on the high seas. However, in recent decades scientists have been able to confirm the existence of rogue waves, although they are still difficult to observe and measure.

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The first recorded evil wave occurred off the coast of Norway in 1995. The event, known as the “Draubner wave”, reached a height of nearly 84 feet, twice the size of the waves around it. Although the 1995 rogue wave was generally longer than the wave measured off Ucluelet, the record-breaking 2020 event was nearly three times the size of the other waves around, the researchers said.

Studying rogue waves can help scientists better understand the forces behind them and their potential impacts, said Scott Petty, CEO of MarineLabs, a research company that operates a network of marine sensors and buoys around North America. .

“The unpredictability of rogue waves and the sheer power of these ‘walls of water’ can make them incredibly dangerous to naval operations and the public,” he said in a statement.

Petty added that the ability to track and analyze these unusual events would improve maritime safety and help protect coastal communities.

“The predictability of rogue waves remains an open question, but our data helps understand when, where and how rogue waves form and the risks they pose,” he said.

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