A Buoy Noticed a Wave in 2013 That Was 'Remarkable'

Others may have been taller, but this was recorded by the best tool we have
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 14, 2016 9:23 AM CST
World's Tallest Wave Sets 'Remarkable' Record at 62 Feet
In this Nov. 1, 2011, file photo released by Nazare Qualifica/Polvo Concept, Garrett McNamara of Hawaii surfs what is being called the tallest wave ever ridden at Praia do Norte beach in Portugal. At 78 feet (24 meters), it's been certified by Guinness World Records.   (AP Photo/Nazare Qualifica/Polvo Concepts, Jorge Leal)

The world's "highest significant wave height as measured by a buoy" was 62.3 feet, located in the (very) high seas between the UK and Iceland, and occurred in 2013, the World Meteorological Organization has confirmed. The wave formed after a strong cold front passed through the remote area, which is home to "intense extra-tropical storms" sometimes called "bombs." Other waves have been reported to be taller, including tsunamis, rogue waves, and a 95-foot wave observed by a ship in the same waters in 2000, but this is the highest to be confirmed by a buoy, which is arguably the most exacting tool we have, reports USA Today. Estimates by satellites and ships "are generally unverifiable, since there is no ground truth for the satellite, and the others tend to be from pitching and rolling platforms," one wave expert says.

The 62-footer is now part of the WMO's Global Weather & Climate Extremes Archive, reports the Guardian. The archive logged two other records earlier this year: the longest distance of a single lightning flash (in Oklahoma), and the longest duration of one (in southern France). As for other waves, the Smithsonian reports that the tallest tsunami wave ever recorded (though not by a buoy) was a 100-foot wave that followed a landslide in 1958 in Alaska's Lituya Bay, which destroyed trees 1,700 feet upslope. And the National Ocean Service and European Space Agency confirm that freakish rogue waves, once "dismissed as a nautical myth," do exist, though they've only been measured by the ships that suffer their wrath. (A rogue wave killed a mom bodysurfing with her son in Hawaii.)

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