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Friday, July 18, 2014

Just ferret out: Two cases of freaque wave encounters in 1942 and 1977.

On Google search, with the help of using key words of  "Google news freaque waves" I came across this two pieces of old news paper gem news on freaque waves:

Freak Wave Drowns Seven in Lake Erie, from May 31, 1942's Pittsburgh Press;
Five Die After Trawler is Hit By Freak Wave, from The Glasgow Herald, Dec. 6, 1977.

I was particularly interested in an eyewitness account in the 1942 Lake Erie case:
     One fisherman described the waveas an enormous black wall that blotted out everything and rushed in with a deep, rolling rumble. 
     The only warning he said, was a shrieking noise like a siren which proceeded the wave.
which was copied from the hardly legible original newspaper:

Whether or not freaque waves make noise is still unsettled. Obviously there are freaque waves that don't make noises, but some did. This case in Lake Erie in 1942 was one of them -- a shrieking siren like sound described by an eyewitness would dispel any possible room for doubt!

Some other rather contrasting notes about these two cases: both reports used the term "freak wave" in the headline, both cases were tragic that involved unfortunate multiple life loses, while the Lake Erie case may have influenced by weather condition, i.e. sudden shift in wind, the Glasgow Herald report indicated the weather was "quite reasonable".

These two cases, 35 years apart, happened long before freaque waves ever become sensationally infatuated by the modern media types. One might even gather useful informations on freaque wave happenings from these old news reports that still valued and retains journalistic integrity. 

Saturday, July 05, 2014

A case in Fleurieu on 06/27/2014

I am not sure how many people are familiar with Fleurieu Peninsula, I am certainly not one of them, I have to Google through Wikipedia to learn that they are located in South Australia. In the Sunday, July 6, 2014, Victor Harbor Times, there's this article: "Fleurieu lifesaver warns people off rocks" with the following pictures:

REGION - A local surf lifesaver has warned that coastal rocks are "no place for bravado", after two men narrowly avoided being swept off rocks in Port Elliot last week.
Safety along local beaches has been swept back into the spotlight after the pair were photographed scrambling for secure footing after being knocked over by a rogue wave on the rocks at Knights Beach on Friday, June 27.
Goolwa's Mick Windibank witnessed the incident, and took photos of what he said were two young men on the rocks.
"This is why people are getting in trouble at our beaches; ignoring signage and not respecting the ocean in general," he said.
"Lucky boys I reckon."
Port Elliot Surf Lifesaving Club (PESLC) secretary Marty Smee said the rocks from Port Elliot to Knights Beach are dangerous places to be.
According to Mr Smee, millions of years of weathering has worn them smooth and slippery when wet, while algae growing on them further reduces grip.
"The waves are also unpredictable and come in fast," he said.
"You find it hard to outrun waves; especially on rounded, smooth rocks."
Mr Smee said there have been deaths in the area, although decades ago, and recalled at least two incidents in the last few years when PESLC members were required to save people swept off rocks in Green Bay, between Horseshoe Bay and Knights Beach.
"One of those was life and death, and skilful work on behalf of an IRB (inflatable rescue boat)?crew saved a young man," he said.
"Other people have received severe abrasions."
These are local informations, thanks to the bystander who took the pictures that makes the case more than just a heresy and they certainly should be made known so other similar areas around the world can learn to prevent future happenings. This rocky shore freaque wave case on Friday, June 27, 2014 is duly recorded as a freaque wave happening thanks to this article.  How many similar happenings got lost in the information world because no one's doing the recording.  At any rate we are happy that this one got recorded and most happy of all is that everyone's safe and sound just ends up a good lesson. Deo Gratias!

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Beware the warning signs and comply!

Here's a news item in Taipei Times I just read which a civil liberty minded people may find it's objectionable. but siding on the safety and saving lives, one can understand why the local officials in Taiwan would choose to do this:
In view of repeated incidents involving swimmers who ignored warning signs erected in the Kenting National Park of adverse sea conditions, park authorities said they have decided to slap fines of NT$3,000 on violators, effective yesterday.
Kenting’s South Bay (南灣) is a popular spot among swimmers, but three people drowned there last year because they ignored red warning flags, park officials said.
Kenting National Park Headquarters wrote “swimming prohibited” on its warning flags, but several students from Feng Chia University in Greater Taichung also ignored these warnings, resulting in the death of two.
“Now anyone who ignores the warning signs and goes swimming will be fined NT$3,000 for violation of the National Park Act (國家公園法),” the park headquarters said.
It said that if the waves are 1m high, it will set warning red flags to ban swimming, adding that if the waves are 1.5m high, it will ban diving.
Jetskis and other water activities will be prohibited if the waves are 2m high, the agency said.
In case of typhoons, the beach area will be cordoned off altogether, the park authorities added.
They said that in the past, they could only disperse violators and said that the fines might provide more of a deterrent.
On the first day of the new rule yesterday, it was a beautiful, sunny day in Kenting and there were many swimmers, but no warning signs on the beach.
So the moral of the matter is to beware the warning signs and be prepared to obey or risking on paying some large fines (NT3000 is equivalent US $100).  It will be difficult to fault the local officials' effort in trying to prevent damaging injuries and casualties.  We can certainly not excuse the college students who ignored the warning signs and ended up lost two companions. Is there better ways than large fines? There must be. But human nature as it is, we are still carrying our own life in our own hands.  Safety first, by all means, be mindful when there's warning signs!

Making Waves: the science of summer!

I just come across this interesting article entitled "The Science of Summer: Making Waves" that was published a week ago, June 25, 2014, in the University Press of FAU (Florida Atlantic U.) written by Luke Otfinowski.
The arrival of summer, for most, means a lot more time at the beach. Whatever your water activity, be it snorkeling, surfing, kiteboarding, paddle boarding or simply trying to enjoy a swim without getting your hair wet, waves are going to be there whether you want them to or not. It’s interesting thinking about where a wave starts, what determines its size, and if a butterfly beating its wings across the ocean means a tsunami is heading our way. The mechanisms for the formation and behavior of ocean waves are actually pretty simple and they might also help us figure out the meaning behind those “make waves” banners and signs we pass so often on campus. So, put on your floaties because here comes the break on waves!
When the sun heats the air on the uneven surface of the earth, certain portions heat up more quickly, causing that air to rise. This allows for cooler air to swoop in, fill the space, and create a lovely, cool breeze that is always welcome in South Florida. When this happens over the water, that cold air may brush against the surface of the water, creating a ripple. If the air continues blowing that ripple along, it will grow into a small wave and potentially keep getting bigger.
There are two main factors for a wave being formed and getting larger: the speed of the wind across the surface of the water and the distance of water over which the wind has blown, also called the fetch. The faster the wind is travelling and the further it travels pushing against the wave, the bigger it will be. Though most ocean waves are wind generated, there can be exceptions.
Dr. Brooks, a marine biologist at FAU, points to an event that occurred at Daytona Beach in 1992. Beachgoers were surprised by a rogue 18-foot wave that came out of nowhere and swept cars parked on shore, along with their drivers, into the water.
“It was most likely triggered by an underwater landslide or other seismic event. It was an otherwise calm day,” says Brooks.
 These and other major wave types can appear suddenly due to shifts of the ocean floor, such as earthquake movements or underwater volcanoes.
Waves are mostly just kinetic energy. The movement of wind transfers energy into the water and the waves move that energy. It is not the water that is being moved, but energy. The kinetic energy moves through the water in a circular motion, not a forward motion, like round cylinders moving a strap of a conveyor belt. This is why a buoy out on the ocean measures wave size by rising up and down in a bobbing motion as opposed to getting caught in a wave and moving across the water.
Another way to imagine this is to make a mark in the middle of a jump rope and swing the rope up and down, causing kinetic energy to move in a wave-like pattern away from you towards the other end. You would see that the marked portion of the rope did not actually move.
These waves of kinetic energy will travel thousands of miles until they begin to hit obstacles near the coast. Once the waves come in contact with obstacles, like offshore continental shelves, the friction will gradually slow the wave, making it lose part of its intensity. By the time the waves reach the coast, the swell has lost much of its previous energy and intensity. It would be much more powerful if it didn’t come into contact with so many obstacles on its journey.
Once the wave hits a sand bank, a reef or shallow waters, the wave slows down further, causing the wavelength to shorten, the crest of the wave to grow, and the height of the wave to rise. As the bottom slows, the top of the wave keeps moving and finally breaks, giving us the image of a classic white edged curve just asking to be conquered by a surfer.
So the next time you are walking around campus and pass under a banner telling you to “make waves,” you could think of it as a message encouraging you to be a kinetic force — a force that may start out as just ripples in a vast ocean, but with persistence can grow; a force that keeps moving forward, crossing new lands, passing obstacles and, though they may slow you down, not letting anything stop you until you make it to your goal.
When you think of it like that, it’s a pretty good message to live by.
 I thought it's a timely and useful article to read, even provided info on a freaque wave event unknown to us outsiders that was "occurred at Daytona Beach" in 1992. For which beachgoers "were surprised by a rogue 18-foot wave that came out of nowhere and swept cars parked on shore, along with their drivers, into the water."  And I thought the title of the article is a rather refreshing one to attractive attention. Really what else can be regarded as the science of summer?

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Freaque wave an amazing ocean fact?

The ABC Science of Australia just published an fairly interesting article online entitled: "10 facts about our amazing oceans". Of particular interest to me, of course, is its fact #6: Rogue waves really do exist.  Here's what they have to say:
For centuries maritime folklore has had tales of gigantic waves that would appear without warning in mid-ocean and sink ships, even in good weather. These rogue waves are not necessarily the biggest waves ever found at sea, but isolated waves way bigger than what any crew might expect in a given sea state. 
By definition, rogue waves are ones whose height is more than twice that of the prevailing conditions. 
The largest scientifically measured rogue waves were encountered in February 2000, by the British oceanographic research vessel, the RRS Discovery. West of Scotland it recorded individual waves of up to 29.1 metres, almost the height of a 10 storey building. 
The causes of these waves are not completely understood, however they seem to happen more often when a strong ocean current runs counter to the direction of the waves.

Basically all routine informations, nothing new there.  My initial reaction was the article is probably an article for the summer doldrum, but it's not summer right now in Australia.  Is this really an amazing fact? I guess it depends on what do you consider as amazing. Anyway, it's still an interesting, and educational article for recommended reading list.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Freaque waves as icebreaker

In the midst of hot summer in North America, it's not timely to think of ice and icebreakers, but here's an interesting science article in entitle "Freak waves prove to be ultimate icebreaker" by Sarah-Jane O'Connor along with a video of helicopter deploying a buoy onto the Anarctic ice,  that just brings some cool summer thoughts to us:

''Freak waves'' observed by early Antarctic explorers break up sea ice hundreds of kilometres from the open water, New Zealand researchers have found. 
Scientists from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) found that waves bigger than 3 metres break ice much further away from the sea-ice edge than previously thought. 
Niwa oceanographer Dr Mike Williams said the study, published in Nature today, provided vital information that had been missing from models of sea ice and its effect on climate.
‘‘When these experiments were last carried out in the 1970s and 80s, people needed to be sitting on the sea ice to take measurements and that meant they couldn’t be out there when the big waves came through,’’ Williams said. 
The Niwa team developed wave buoys, so they ‘‘were able to put those out on the ice and leave them out during big storms’’, he said
What was interesting to note is this:

The Niwa scientists also compared data from 1997 to 2009 to examine the link between wave heights in the Southern Ocean and sea ice extent. 
‘‘What we’ve found is that where waves have got bigger the sea ice has retreated, and where waves have got smaller the sea ice has expanded,’’ Williams said. 
The research helped to explain why Antarctic sea ice had been increasing in some areas where climate models predicted it would decrease.
So the alarm of decreasing sea ice in Antarctica is just hot air! Now this is also of interest to us remembering
Sir Shackleton's expedition:

The effect of waves on sea ice has been known since the early days of Antarctic exploration. Ernest Shackleton was ‘‘famous for having had his ship trapped in ice’’, Williams said. 
After the men abandoned ship in the Weddell Sea, ‘‘freak waves’’ broke up the ice they had sought safety on. 
Williams said the knowledge could be beneficial for ships that get stuck in sea ice, if they knew there were big waves coming that could break the ice around them. He  said understanding how sea ice expands and retracts was an im important part of climate modelling. 
The connection between waves and ice they confirmed should inspire more interest in measurement ice and waves! Niwa scientists certainly deserve our utmost admiration for their detailed efforts!

Thursday, May 08, 2014

A 12 ft freaque wave outside east coast Florida (with Update)

This Article in Sun Sentinel of Florida, written by Brett Clarkson on May 5, 2014, tells a freaque wave encounter of two fishermen who were strained near Jupiter Inlet overnight clingling to their capsized boat and they were spotted by  Coast Guard plane early morning and successfully rescued: 

After 17 hours spent clinging to the hull of their capsized boat, Cory Bowman and Justyn Bradley knew their ordeal was finally nearing its end.
A U.S. Coast Guard C-130 plane had just flown overhead and was making another pass. They had wisely avoided the beer in their cooler all night, to stay alert and hydrated, but the presence of the Coast Guard aircraft in the morning sky was cause for celebration.
 Here's their story  
. . . the pair had set out from the Jupiter Inlet area on Bradley's 21-foot Parker to fish for some mahi-mahi. The trip was cut short around 4 p.m. when a 12-foot rogue wave came at them, capsizing the boat and tossing Bowman, 38, of Tequesta, and Bradley, 37, of Jupiter, into the ocean.
"It pitched my buddy Justyn 30 feet out of the boat, it literally just catapulted him," said Bowman, adding that he grew up in Florida and has spent a lot of time on the water. "This thing was just, I've never seen one that sharp, that tall. It was ridiculous."
After Bowman swam under the boat to retrieve two life jackets and their cooler, which they tied up and held on to, their long night began.
When night began to fall, Bowman said, gaffer dolphins started swimming around them, about 15 to 20 of them over several hours. The stars and moon shone light down on the water, and the phytoplankton glowed like lightning bugs. To Bowman, it sounded like his noise machine at home — just constant waves. There was conversation, but also bouts of silence.
          At one point, Bowman noted their predicament.      
"I told Justyn, I said, 'we're in trouble, dude, we're in serious trouble, dude,' " he said.
Bowman said waves washed him off the boat at least a half dozen times. The entire night, he lay on his stomach on the hull. He didn't sleep at all, and the night went by surprisingly fast, he said.
"Honestly, neither one of us ever panicked at all," Bowman said. "I really, truly believed I was going to get found. I didn't break down really until I got on land, saw my family, my wife."
Bradley's wife, Beth, on Monday described both men as seaworthy and said she alternated between calm and panic.
"I knew that if anybody was going to survive [out there], it was going to be those two," she said. "But the thought crosses your mind, what if they don't come home?"
ItAs for her husband, Beth Bradley said he was too tired and too shaken up to discuss the incident on Monday.
Quite a story -- all started with a 12 ft freaque wave that's clearly not part of their plan! It is remarkable that they kept their calm and cool, never panicked and even retain a sense of humor, along with their supreme optimism. Freaque wave did not recur but other waves did not allow them to have a peaceful night.but it makes the night "went by surprisingly fast"!


Sonja Isger and Julius Whigham II of Palm Beach Post have provided a detailed report of the men's encounter along with a Coast Guard rescue video when they interviewed Bowman:

Sitting in the garage of his Tequesta home Monday afternoon, Bowman said he was still shaken up by the experience. He recalled the moment that their 21-foot Parker boat was overturned by a “rogue” wave. The men had started to fish in earnest around noon and decided to stay out a while longer to see if they could find more fish.
“We were in about 500 feet of water and all of a sudden, this wave that came out of nowhere, it was literally completely rogue,” Bowman said. “This thing was probably the nastiest wave I think I’ve ever seen. This thing was probably about 12 foot and it was a sheer wall, straight up and down.”
“I told Justyn, ‘This is the biggest one of the day, hang on.’”
The wave came crashing down on top of, and to side of the boat, and flipped it within seconds, Bowman said. He said Bradley, who was standing in the back on the port side was catapulted from the boat about 30 feet. Bowman, who was standing on the starboard side, recalled hitting the water and going straight down 
“I went down and I popped up and the boat is capsized,” he said. “It’s about 4 o’clock (in the afternoon) and not one boat around and I knew we were in trouble.”
Bowman clamored to get on top of the overturned boat, while Bradley clung to a large fishing lure box. Bradley made his way to a cooler that was filled with bottles of water and then made his way to the top of the boat, Bowman said.
“I didn’t know if the boat was going to stay afloat,” Bowman said. “I was assuming the worst. You have to. We got all situated on there and (there were) no boats, no nothing, no anybody. “
Bowman swam underneath the boat to retrieve two life vests and rain jacket. He grabbed a tool box and searched for flares, but had to settle for a whistle, some drawstrings and zip ties instead.
Their cell phones were lost and radio communications disabled.
Bowman said he knew that his wife, Laurie, would contact the Coast Guard when she realized the men had not checked in and were out of contact. 

“I kept saying out loud, ‘Please, Laurie, call it in,” Bowman said.
Family members provided Coast Guard crews information about where the men had had started their fishing trip.
It is always good to read a happy ending story, especially when they provided some well observed numbers about the "nastiest" wave!

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Encountered by Cruise ship Crystal Serenity

This recent April 27, 2014 news has just came to my attention:
(7:45 a.m. EDT) -- A wave that struck a luxury cruise ship sailing in the Mediterranean broke windows and caused damage to the ship's main dining room. 
The wave hit Crystal Cruises' 1,070-passenger ship Crystal Serenitywhile it was en route from Spain to Monte Carlo. 
According to a Cruise Critic member who is posting live reports from the ship on the Cruise Critic forums, the wave struck Serenity during the early hours of Saturday morning (April 26).  
Member Keith1010 wrote: "… at around 1:30 AM a rogue wave likely hit the ship because three windows in the Crystal Dining Room were blown in and of course water also came in." 
Crystal confirmed the report to Cruise Critic.
Crystal Serenity "was cruising the southern coast of Spain en route to Monte Carlo when the wave struck," a Crystal spokesperson said. "Temporary repairs were made to the windows during the night by the ship's crew. Most guests on board were unaware of any disturbance until an announcement was made to the entire ship to keep everyone abreast of the situation and to advise that dining room would not be open for breakfast or lunch. 
"During the day, the windows were permanently fixed, the carpet was cleaned and dried, several other restaurants were open for breakfast and lunch, including Prego that was opened for lunch. The Crystal Dining Room resumed service for dinner." 
According to Keith1010: "Portions of the carpeting got wet. A few tables are out of commission for the short term but given that several people are dining at other venues and even off the ship there are no issues. 

"Again, kudos for the hard work of the Serenity crew and for working so hard to make this as transparent to the guests as possible," he said
Crystal Serenity is currently on a 13-night Mediterranean cruise from Southampton to Rome. 
--Jamey Bergman, UK Production Editor 

May be because there was no major damage, some onboard did not even noticed the happening, there's no world wide news coverage, but nevertheless this was a true freaque encounter! By the way here's a file photo of Crystal Serenty:

Happened off the Treasure Coast, Florida

This is the headline
Rogue Wave Capsizes Boat Sunday; 
2 Rescued After 17 Hours In The Water Off Fort Pierce
given in the by Scott Smith:

By Scott T. Smith / CBS12 News
OFF THE TREASURE COAST, Fla. -- Two Tequesta men in their 30s were rescued after 17 hours in the water when their boat was struck and capsized by a rogue wave Sunday afternoon.

Though they left from the Jupiter Inlet, the Coast Guard located them 12 miles out from the Ft. Pierce inlet Monday morning. The men were not injured but they were a little dehydrated.

The Coast Guard found the pair on the upturned hull of their boat in relatively rough seas.

The Coast Guard says the men told each other jokes while they drifted north in the Gulf Stream. They are back home and reported in good spirits.

A rogue wave is one that is at least twice as high as the observed conditions. Seas were reported withe 3- to 5-foot swells on Sunday, so a rogue wave in those conditions would be 10 feet or more.

Now this is most definitely a happy ending. I can't be more impressed by the two gentlemen that 'told each other jokes while they drifted north in the Gulf Stream" during their 17 hours ordeal waiting to be rescued.   That kind of calmness must be special God's blessing for them. Wish all encounter can be resolved similarly.