A monster has risen from the deep and there’s proof!
A World Meteorological Organization expert committee has established a new world record wave height of 19 metres (62.3 feet) measured by a buoy located halfway between Ireland and Iceland in the North Atlantic.
The wave was recorded by an automated buoy on 4 February 2013 in the North Atlantic ocean between Ireland and Iceland (approximately 59° N, 11° W). It followed the passage of a very strong cold front, which produced winds of up to 43.8 knots (50.4 miles per hour) over the area. The previous record of 18.275 metres (59.96 feet) was measured on 8 December 2007, also in the North Atlantic.
The WMO Commission for Climatology’s Extremes Evaluation Committee classified it as “the highest significant wave height as measured by a buoy”. “This is the first time we have ever measured a wave of 19 metres. It is a remarkable record,” said WMO Assistant Secretary-General Wenjian Zhang. “It highlights the importance of meteorological and ocean observations and forecasts to ensure the safety of the global maritime industry and to protect the lives of crew and passengers on busy shipping lanes,” he said.
Wave height is defined as the distance from the crest of one wave to the trough of the next. The term “significant wave height” means the average of the highest one-third of waves measured by an instrument, and is comparable to what an observer would see as an average of about 15-20 well-formed waves over a period of about 10 minutes.
The highest waves typically occur in the North Atlantic, rather than the Southern Ocean. Wind circulation patterns and atmospheric pressure in the North Atlantic in winter leads to intense extra-tropical storms, often so-called “bombs”. This means that the area from the Grand Banks underwater plateaus off the Canadian coast around Newfoundland to south of Iceland and to the west coast of the Ireland, including the Rockall Trough, are prime candidates for wave records.