Rogue wave off BC coast sets new record

Animated graphic showing yellow buoy on an undulating grid representing waves.
This animation shows a rogue wave startling a buoy off the coast of Vancouver Island in November 2020. Image via Marine Labs.

Scientists said on February 8, 2022, that they’ve now verified the most extreme rogue wave on record so far. The wave struck off the coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, on November 17, 2020. It was 58 feet (17.6 meters) high. The freak occurrence of this record-setting wave didn’t cause damage to any ships or land. Just one lonely buoy – floating in the open sea – recorded the event.

Nature’s open-access, peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports published a study about the rogue wave on February 2.

The Weather Network later compared the height of the rogue wave to a “jumbo jet” and said it:

… grew almost three times the height of the waves around it.

The scientists said in their study that a rogue wave such as this should only occur once in 1,300 years!

Lonely cone-shaped yellow buoy floating in the open ocean with hilly coast in the distance.
The Marine Labs ocean sensor off Ucluelet, British Columbia, that measured the record-setting rogue wave. Image via Marine Labs.
Line graph of tight zigzags with a big spike in the middle.
A graph showing the rogue wave of November 17, 2020. Image via Johannes Gemmrich & Leah Cicon/ Scientific Reports.

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New record-setting rogue wave

The buoy that took its wild ride on the historic rogue wave was located about 4 miles (7 km) off the coast of Vancouver Island near the hamlet of Ucluelet. It was one of 26 buoys owned by Marine Labs. When scientists at Marine Labs saw the data, they were surprised, so they sent the information to scientists at the University of Victoria. Two scientists at the U of V – Johannes Gemmrich and Leah Cicon – ultimately authored the study. They confirmed the 58-foot (18-meter) rogue wave and said it was an anomaly among the surrounding 20-foot (6-meter) waves.

Canada has 10,000 buoys in the waters off its coasts. If all of them had the technology of the buoy at Ucluelet, we might record more of these mysterious, towering waves and be able to learn about them.

Unlike tsunamis, rogue waves tend to occur out in the open ocean and are not associated with earthquakes. Scientists are still not sure just what causes them and how they maintain their singular height.

Bottom line: Scientists have confirmed that a rogue wave that struck off the coast of Vancouver Island, Canada, on November 17, 2020, is the most extreme rogue wave on record.

Source: Generation mechanism and prediction of an observed extreme rogue wave

Via Cision

Via the Weather Network

Read more: Using light to understand rogue waves

February 18, 2022

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Kelly Kizer Whitt

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