I've just spend 3 days in the lovely and very sleepy fishing village of Patonga on the Central Coast (more on that soon) with a beach of no waves to speak of at all. And at the same time I've been reading a fab book about surfing, which got me thinking...about big waves. But when researching my "what was the biggest ever recorded wave?" question, I came across something so much more interesting. Hmm, by the way, the answer: the biggest wave on record occurred in Lituya Bay on the southern coast of Alaska in 1958. An earthquake measuring 8.3 on the Richter scale hit the area and shook loose an estimated 40 million cubic yards of dirt and glacier from a mountainside at the head of the bay. When the debris hit the water, a massive 1,720-foot wave was created and washed over the headland.
But of even more interest to me are Rogue Waves....
A rogue wave also known as a freak wave, is a like a massive wall of water that rises in the middle of the ocean for no apparent reason. Often they occur where there is deep water or where physical conditions like strongs winds and fast currents converge. There are ocean tracking satellites that record these huge waves as they pose significant risks to ships and oil platforms. Folklore and eye witness accounts have talked of giant walls of water that appear without warning, mid ocean, against the prevailing current and often in clear conditions. They appear as an almost vertical wall of water, preceded by a deep tough known as "holes in the sea", with most ships unable to withstand the pressure of this assault and breaking up.
There are three categories of freak waves 1) "Walls of water" travelling up to 10 km through the ocean 2) "Three Sisters", groups of three waves and 3) single, giant storm waves, building up to fourfold the storm's waves height and collapsing after some seconds.