Real-time Earth and Moon phase

Friday, March 30, 2007

Life Altered in the Blink of an Eye

"Life altered in the Blink of an Eye" is actually the title of a book review article in the Washington Post this morning. My hat tips to the WaPo editor who came up with this intriguing title. My first instinct when I saw it is to think that it is a perfect description of what happens when a freaque wave hits. Indeed the book being reviewed is a fiction that starts with the mysterious missing of a little girl on the beach in which rogue waves were mentioned as a possible cause among others. I am not at all interested in this soap opera kind of modern fiction. Just wish to registered here that I think this is an incredibly poetic as well as agile title. Much more than merely a book review article.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Spring/Autumn in Durban, S.A.

As North America is getting ready to welcome the early spring of 2007, I guess not too many people would wish that they were in the beautiful southeastern coast of South Africa along the Agulhas current near Durban. They are in for some rough coastal sea conditions in the last few days. Just take a look at some of the news headline that’s happening there:
Monster wave warning issued
KZN coast battered by freak waves
Surf wreaks havoc on KZN coast
KZN coast left battered and broken
and the following one is my favorite:
'Big waves' fear unfounded
While freaque waves have been explicitly or implicitly implied in all these reports, the coarse conditions are not unexpected. It's storm season and high tide, especially when there will be an expected alignment of the Earth, Sun, and Moon. Still some devastating cases happened inevitably, among others:
In Durban an unidentified man's body was found washed up on the beach at Shelly Beach on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast.

Another man was washed out to sea by the strong sruf was luckily being pulled out by an alert lifeguard. It is believed that he had gone to observe the enormous waves.

Two women at Durban's Blue Lagoon were washed off their feet when a freak wave crashed into the parking lot in the early hours. Netcare 911 spokesperson said the women were taken to Addington Hospital with cuts, bruises and lacerations. One of them was six months pregnant.
Just an ordinary spring/autumn time period, yea right!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Another nearshore freaque wave tragedy

Well, after reporting two happy endings from devastating hits of nearshore freaque waves, a tragic case depressingly come to my attention. Coventry Telegraph online yesterday published an article by Barbara Goulden entitled "Probe into wave tragedy" that starts with this sentence: "THE National Trust is carrying out an investigation following the deaths of a couple swept off a harbour wall by a freak wave."

It happened a week ago, when Stephen Tickell, aged 42, was walking hand in hand with his partner, Patricia Evans, aged 53, as "they were washed into the sea at Mullion Cove, in Cornwall, on March 4." They were subsequently being "pulled from the sea by an RAF helicopter" and "rushed to hospital but pronounced dead shortly afterwards." That is essentially what had happened. Another culprit of nearshore freaque waves, this one ended in tragedy. We certainly can not over emphasize the glaring danger of benign areas near and around the water edges. It happens all around the world and it's happening so frequently and we practically know nothing about them other than knowing the danger but whatever will be will be.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Freaque wave drags boys off rocks

If I did not make it clear the dangerousness of the nearshore freaque waves in my previous post on the case in Iceland, half way around the globe and a day earlier in New Zealand the following local TV News certainly underscores the utmost perilous all over again:

The dangers of rock fishing have been underlined after a freak wave swept two boys into the sea from their rock fishing spot in the Bay of Islands.

Colin Akuhata and his two nephews were fishing off the rocks on the normally placid Kerikeri inlet. The boys went around a headland to another fishing spot when they were swept into the sea.

Akuhata heard them screaming and ran a kilometre for help rather than leaping into the water to try to rescue them.

Police say Akuhata did the right thing.

"One of the locals was on a surf board and apparently found one of the boys and pulled him back into the shore. And the other boy made it back to the beach safely as well," says Constable Andrew Talea.

One of the boys was badly cut by the rocks but managed to walk up to the waiting ambulance. The other, who has suspected back injuries from being smashed against the rocks, was carried out on a stretcher.

Both boys were taken to Kawakawa Hospital.
Both this and the previous case are also very fortunate cases because they all survived. Happy endings are certainly always heart warming. We must say "Deo Gratias" again!

Waves drags car out to sea

Here's a rather terrifying and also hard to believe story that has happened yesterday as reported in Iceland Review Online (Hat tip to James Higham):
A resident in Eyrarbakki, south Iceland, was washed into the ocean when a tidal wave hit his car at the pier in the neighboring town of Stokkseyri Friday. A firefighter brought him ashore.

Halldór Jónsson, an electrician, was helping a friend bringing a boat to land, which was tied to the pier, when the incident occurred, Fréttabladid reports.

Jónsson parked his car on the pier with a trailer attached to it and was about to drag the boat onto the trailer when a huge wave swept him out to sea.

Jónsson managed to crawl out of the window on the roof of his car. “It felt like I was stranded on a desert island,” he said.

A firefighter arrived at the scene and tossed a rope to Jónsson. He tied the rope to his trailer and managed to save himself and his equipment.
The report described that the car was hit by a "tidal wave" is not quite accurate. James Higham correctly called to attention to the phenomenon of rogue waves. This is clearly a case of nearshore freaque waves which is more complicate and grossly under-explored than those deep ocean freaque waves. There were frequent reports of young children or adults being washed out to the sea along the beach fronts by sudden unexpected freaque waves, but a whole automobile being dragged out to sea is still truly incredible. Take a stroll along the beach or beach front can be dangerous, now take a ride along the beach front is not any safer either!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Storm waves at the Horn, Part II.

Here's another fantastic video took by PhysWizEP on his current South America cruise.

He indicated that the video was taken through their cabin window on deck 4 of the Prinsendam. According to his YouTube description: "We were in hurricane strength winds on the day we got hit by two rogue waves. I used the video option on the Canon S3 IS digital still camera."

As an ocean wave aficionado, I just wish to sincerely thank PhysWizEP for share his videos on YouTube with the rest of us! Please visit his YouTube site for other exciting videos.

Storm waves at the Horn

This is a follow-up to my earlier post (An encounter around the Horn.) in February. In which I noted that the traveler Jill on her cruise around South America reported an encounter with freaque waves around Cape Horn. There was no news report about the case. Even though it was a real happening with 40 injuries, I did not expect to hear about it again. But I was wrong! This morning I came across a confirmation from another passenger on that same cruise indicated the encounter was with "two rogue waves" on February 1, 2007. This passenger, by the name of PhysWizEP, posted the above fabulous video, on the YouTube, of the wave conditions that day that was taken through a window on the 12th deck bar shortly after the freaque waves encounter. And I was right, the cruise ship is Prinsendam.

Friday, March 02, 2007

A contrarian view point

I came across some interesting discussions in the newsgroup of rec.boats.cruising that was taken place in July of last year. It was started with someone posted the New York Times article by William Broad which I reviewed earlier. A person by the name of 'Bob' declared:
And as I said last time......... there are no such things as "...rogue or sneaker..." waves.

Just some really big ones that should be expected.
After some friendly and unfriendly exchanges he posted the following detailed viewpoint:
For me they are just really big waves that pop up from time to time and most times are rather predictable. Yes I did say predictable.
As I mentioned last time, with many not agreeing and many others posting monster wave pic as proof of rogue and sneaker waves, for me it is a way to view my relationship with the oceans.

I believe that there is nothing inherently sneaky nor roguish about the seas. The worlds oceans are simply doing what they always do. For me to live and enjoy the oceans I have placed myself, not as some macho able to beat and over come my nautical adversary, rather as someone there to enjoy all the amazing things that occur out there. For me to say I got hit by a rogue wave that came from nowhere and smite my vessel is to say that I am also just a hapless stooge who has no responsibility for my own safety. A rather childish approach if you go by that Transitional Analysis stuff from the early 70s.

So I say, sorry, no such thing as a rogue wave. Just lots of really interesting events that are possible at sea, that we need to be prepared to maneuver, and hopefully able to predict more accurately.

Call it all liberal BS semantics if you want. However, the language a person uses serves as a great window to see what they think. On the other hand, language also effects the way people think and behave (Worf-Sapier). So change the language and we might change how people think about the sea. Personally I do not want to be helpless and victimized by a sneaker. I would much rather say it the way it was.......... I got caught with my pants down because I was not paying enough attention to what was going on.
He certainly entitles to his view point. But it not quite a valid view point. He may have been out there with all the sea experience. In talking about his relation with the oceans suggests clearly he is one of the lucky ones that has not really encountered a real freaque wave. Not all large waves are freaque waves and not all freaque waves are large waves. As no one at the present can predict freaque waves, his adverting to predicton is especially baseless. I have heard one other public declaration of "There is no such thing as freaque waves" before. That was from Professor Willard J. Pierson, Jr. at a wave meeting before someone was going to present a talk on freak waves. Pierson is the founding father of the modern wave spectrum and Gaussian random process conceptualization for ocean waves which practically negates the existence of unexpected freaque waves. That was purely on academic ground. Bob is not quite in Pierson's league. Anyway it's a vast ocean world out there, a contrarian view can always be expected. He probably will not be alone either.