Friday, August 31, 2012

On a rogue wave, maybe

CBS Local Media in Los Angeles carried on their website a timely pre-Labor Day holiday article today by John Brooks :"10-Foot Breakers Possible Amid Holiday High Surf Warning"
National Weather Service forecasters say a “building southerly swell” is expected to bring waves between six to eight feet to local beaches starting Friday morning through Sunday afternoon, with the largest surf peaking Friday night into Saturday afternoon. 
South- and southwest-facing beaches like Zuma Beach, Point Dume, and other parts of Malibu could see waves as high as 10 feet throughout the weekend. 
Santa Monica surfer Myra was skeptical of those numbers as she watched the relative small breakers crash at Surfrider Beach in Malibu. 
“On a rogue wave, maybe,” she said. “Maybe.”
That's pretty much standard forecast report one would generally expected.  What is interesting is the report also included surfer Myra's skepticism on those forecasted numbers.  It is by no means unusual or new, National Weather Service has their work cut off for them to make general public users take their forecast seriously.  Even though NWS forecasters are all dedicated hard workers.  The problem of inaccurate forecasts is not at all with the forecasters.  Rather it's the science that the forecasters rely on to do the forecast is basically half-cooked.  A very obvious symptom is just take a look at the NWS: heavy on operation and political climate studies, very little research on basic sciences  on atmosphere, ocean, and their actual dynamical systems locally.  Local forecasters are only allowed to take the central model outputs without the need even take a look out of the window! Yes, only the model -- the almighty model -- knows what's going on, no question needed or allowed!

What is most interesting to me is surfer Myra's last comment: "On a rogue wave, maybe."  I added the emphasize here.  I assume Myra is not a research scientist herself, but she gave that comment no true research scientist, even the world's foremost experts can't do anything better than her simple answer.  Regarding freaque waves, may be there will be one, or may be not!  We don't know where, when, how, or why, just may be!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Massive Typhoon Bolaven in Western Pacific

While we are watching the Tropical Storm Issac coming through the Gulf of Mexico in North America, in the western Pacific massive Typhoon Bolaven is roaring through Okinawa and heading north.  The above is  an AP picture from the BBC article showing powerful waves lashed a sea wall in Okinawa prefecture.

Prayer for Protection against Storms and Floods

I found the above painting and the following poem from here:

Prayer for Protection against Storms and Floods 
Graciously hear us, O Lord, when we call upon You,
and grant unto our supplications a calm atmosphere,
that we, who are justly afflicted for our sins,
may, by Your protecting mercy, experience pardon.
Through Christ our Lord.

I think faith and prayers are important ingredient in life since so many things are totally out of our control, we do need gracious help from the Creator of Heaven and Earth every now and then!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Five freaque wave tragedies in five days off Irish coast

This article "Four sea tragedies in five days blamed on freak waves" by Ralph Riegel published in the Irish Independent today:
FREAK waves are now being blamed for four sea tragedies that claimed five lives off the Irish coast.
The fifth and final victim -- retired west Cork schoolteacher Pearse Lyne (63) -- was buried last week, with his family asking mourners to make donations to the RNLI rather than bringing flowers.
Mr Lyne drowned on August 17 when his lobster boat capsized off Pulleen Harbour. An RNLI member on shore spotted his small boat floating upside down and raised the alarm.
Mr Lyne had helped support the local filming of Neil Jordan and Colin Farrell's firm Ondine inCastletownbere in 2009.
His death was the fifth following four separate marine accidents in five days -- and experts now believe freak waves were instrumental in all four tragedies.
It is now suspected that two Clare fishermen died when a freak wave struck their vessel, the Lady Eileen, and ruptured propeller shaft water seals.
Noel Dickinson (35) and Michael Galvin (64), both from Quilty, Co Clare, died when their trawler sank off Spanish Point on August 13.
The bodies of both men were found side by side in the wheelhouse.
Divers found damage to the hull of the Lady Eileen and it is suspected water seals may have been breached when a freak wave struck the vessel and it sank, colliding with lobster pots as it plunged to the seabed.
Marine experts are examining the possibility of a freak wave given that it sank so quickly that neither fisherman was able to escape the doomed boat.
The same day, well-known poet and community campaigner John O'Leary (58) drowned off Cod's Head in west Cork.
Mr O'Leary was a good friend of Pearse Lyne, who was to drown four days later.
The poet and farmer, who was originally from Boston in the US, had gone sailing and fishing with his son Christopher (18) from Pearl Beach near his Allihies home.
A freak wave capsized their craft, with neither man able to raise the alarm as they clung to the hull for six hours.
Eventually Christopher bravely decided to swim one kilometre to shore to raise the alarm amid concerns that they were drifting out to sea in the looming darkness. But his father had vanished by the time rescuers arrived.
Mr O'Leary's body was eventually recovered at 2am on August 14 -- with the same Irish Coastguard helicopter leading the search for him as helped rescue him from virtually the same spot following a boating accident in 2011.
The fourth death occurred on August 14 when Martin Burns (54), from Gurteen, Clare Island, Co Mayo, drowned when his currach capsized while he was attempting to secure lobster pots before a storm hit.
Mr Burns, a father of three, was reported missing by his family when he did not return to port as scheduled.
It is believed that Mr Burns, like Mr O'Leary and the Lady Eileen's crew, was the victim of a freak wave.
His body was recovered from the sea not far from Roonagh Pier.
- Ralph Riegel
There is one comment to this article so far by a reader "Bingham" which given as simply "Unsubstantiated unattributed unhelpful." I don't know what was the intention of this comment, but I can only surmise from my point of view that it intends to point out that all the freaque wave claims were unsubstantiated and unattributed and therefore unhelpful for freaque wave studies.  Nevertheless five freaque wave tragedies in five days is quite shocking to hear and the implication which freaque waves were the culprit was certainly distinctively possible.  We are sincerely sympathetic with the victims, wishing them rest in peace, and offer condolence to their families.  Somehow we can not help feel deeply regret that modern science can only help with the speculations and not much else to their prevention and understanding on how and why these tragedies happen.  After nearly 20 years the academic community accepted the existence of freaque waves, we still can not offer any optimistic hopes for better understandings to come, that's a pity!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Happened in Praia dos Dalgados in Portugal

After a few quiet news days, reading this news in yesterday morning's UK Telegraph by Fiona Govan in Madrid and Rosa Silverman makes ones heart aches -- especially seeing the picture of the lovely little five-year-old girl, Lara Lewis, who drowned with her grandfather in Praia dos Dalgados in Portugal:
A five-year-old British girl and her grandfather have drowned in Portugal after being swept out to sea by a freak wave as they strolled along a beach.
Lara Lewis and Brian O’Dwyer, 66, were walking along Salgada beach at Nazare, a picturesque fishing village 80 miles north of the capital Lisbon, when they were knocked off their feet by a wave and swept out to sea.
A woman, believed to be the child’s grandmother, Jill O’Dwyer, was with them and was also swept out to sea but survived and is said to be recovering in hospital.
They were outside an area patrolled by lifeguards when the wave overcame them. It is understood the three had left Lara’s parents, Philip and Sian Lewis, sunbathing to take a walk. Mr and Mrs Lewis were described as being “in deep shock” last night.
Some further details:
The tragedy happened shortly before 2 pm yesterday. Two fishermen on a small boat saw the three struggling in the water and rushed to help, pulling them out of the sea and alerting the rescue services.
But by the time they reached shore the man and the child had stopped breathing. Rescue services on the beach tried to revive them but without success.
“The grandfather was already dead when he was pulled from the sea and the NIEM (National Institute of Emergency Medicine) team did their best to revive the young girl but to no avail,” said Alberquerque e Silva, the commander of the Port of Nazare rescue services.
“The two victims, accompanied by the grandmother, had left the area of Salgada beach, which is under lifeguard surveillance, and went for a walk during which, we believe, they must have been knocked over and swept away by the waves."
A very tragic case indeed!  While it is easy to say that this is another case of "swept away by waves", this one feels so close to our real lives.  Go visit a nice beach how can one not be tempted to take a stroll along the beach?!  It can happen to any of us!  Our prayers go to the Lewis family and may the grandfather and granddaughter rest in peace.  

This dailymail article has more pictures of Lara and her families, they called her the "magical" girl. Here is Express's concise report of this news,

TRAGIC five-year-old Lara Lewis was playing with sea shells when she was swept to her death by a huge freak wave on holiday in Portugal, it was revealed yesterday.
The girl’s grandfather Brian O’Dwyer, 66, also drowned as he tried to save her – while locals had to rescue her grandmother Jill.
The two bodies were pulled from the choppy Atlantic by fishermen at the resort of Nazare, a fishing village 60 miles north of Lisbon.
Lara had been strolling with her grandparents, who live in Portugal, and her three-year-old cousin on a quiet part of Salgado beach.
Her parents Philip Lewis, a university professor from Hackney, London, and Sian Lewis are thought to have been sunbathing not far away when the incident happened at 2pm on Tuesday.
Let's hope and pray that this is the last happening of this kind of case for a long long time!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Remote-control 'lifeguards'

The following news today by AP's Michelle R. Smith entitled "Next wave in rescues: Remote-control 'lifeguards'" is interesting and also encouraging to read
August 17, 2012 06:28 GM
By MICHELLE R. SMITH Associated Press 
 WESTERLY, R.I. (AP) -- A new and relatively inexpensive device could change the way you think about lifeguards.
 EMILY is the acronym for a new remote-controlled lifeguard. It stands for Emergency Integrated Lifesaving Lanyard.
 It's a small watercraft fitted with a flotation device and can go up to 22 mph, allowing it to get to people more quickly, and in some cases more safely, than any human.
 It's being used by a handful of communities, including in Los Angeles County, home of the lifeguards made famous by the TV series "Baywatch."
 If a swimmer is struggling, a lifeguard or anyone else can put EMILY in the water and send it through even rough waves with the help of a remote control.
 EMILY made its first rescue last month when it saved a father and son in Oregon.
Anything that can effectively save lives is something to be encouraged and commended to whomever it may concern: Well done, keep up the good work!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Two freaque wave caused boating accidents, two lives lost!

This depressing news from  this Irish Independent report by Caroline Crawford and Ralph Riegel:
FREAK waves are being blamed for the deaths of two men in separate boating accidents this week.

Martin Burns, who was in his 50s, from Gurteen, Clare Island off the coast of Mayo, lost his life in a fishing accident on Tuesday afternoon. He became the country's fourth drowning victim in two days.

Earlier this week, John O'Leary drowned after the dingy he and his son were in was capsized by a freak wave in Cork.

Mr Burns, a father of three, had been out in his currach moving his lobster pots in anticipation of stormy conditions when he got into trouble on Tuesday.

He was a well-known farmer and fisherman on the island. It is believed a freak wave may have hit his currach, throwing him into the water.
Condonlences go to the families of these two fishermen, may they rest in peace.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Swimming across Lake Michigan with updates

My colleague Dave Schwab sent the following message this morning:
Jeff and Sara Tow, a couple from the Grand Rapids area, have started their attempt to swim across Lake Michigan this morning:
You can read more about their project and follow their progress at:
We sincerely wishing them a safe, smooth, and totally successful swimming across Lake Michigan!

UPDATE 08/16/2012:

Here are updates from their facebook site:

Jeff & Sara both exit water w/ 11 miles to go. 
18 hours ago via SPOT Device

Swimmers and crew are safe and sound after fighting a strong northeast currents that prevented them from making little progress. The prolonged swim made fighting off, exhaustion, nausia, and dehydreation impossible - after boarding the boat for medical evaluation Team Tow attempted to come in via kayak. Shortly thereafter, they were declaired medically unable to continue the swim by thier crew physical trainer and paramedic aboard the boat. The team was brought into the Ludington City Marina via their support boat and were evaluated by EMS. Jeff and Sara have been determined stable, however, as a procaution, they have been taken to Memorial Medical Center in Ludington for further evaluation.
13 hours ago

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

And another swept to sea tragedy in South Wales

The headline that says "We did all we could to save him" is clearly implying a tragic case given in this article just reported in thisissouthwales.
A BURRY Port rescue volunteer has told of his horror at the death of a
Fifteen-year-old Sam Capper, from Birkenhead in Merseyside, could not be saved despite the valiant efforts of his brother, Lewis Hunt, who jumped in after him.
Coastguard officers, several lifeboat crews and a Sea King helicopter from Chivenor all raced to the scene at Llangennith after the alarm was raised last Wednesday evening.
Lifeboat crews rescued Lewis, 21, but it was too late for Sam.
"Under the circumstances and the sea conditions we did exceptionally well to save him," said Burry Port RNLI helmsman Owain Davies.
"In previous instances when we have had more than one person in the water we have been picking two bodies up.
"We are pleased we managed to recover the older brother, but we are sad that we couldn't get the younger one in time.
"It's a tragic story from our perspective with the RNLI, but we responded as quickly as we could.
"We did avert a second drowning — if we hadn't been there within five minutes we could have had a second fatality."
But he admitted the two Burry Port crews which went to the rescue had been devastated by last week's tragedy.
The boys had been fishing on rocks near Blue Pool corner, east of Burry Holms on North Gower, when Sam was swept into the water. His older brother leapt into the sea to try to rescue him, but to no avail.
Mr Davies said people on the shore directed crews to the 21-year-old.
"We proceeded with haste — when we get reports of a person in the water we pull out all the stops," said Mr Davies.
"The onlookers on the cliffs had sight of people in the water and they guided the lifeboat onto the older brother.
"He was conscious and alert and in severe shock and starting to show signs of hypothermia.
"We started giving him treatment while the other boat was searching for his younger brother."
Apart from the Burry Port lifeboats, Rhossili Coastguard, the Loughor independent rescue boat and the Tenby RNLI all-weather lifeboat were all involved.
"Within three or four minutes of being on the scene the RAF helicopter arrived and started to search from the tip of Burry Holms," said Mr Davies. "Within five to six minutes of being on scene they saw the younger brother and immediately put the winchman down to recover him from the water."
Mr Davies warned of the dangers posed by "freak" waves.
He said: "To make people fully aware — you might think the sea is calm, but every 20 minutes or so you get a freak wave which is higher and I believe that's what caught him out.
"He was sitting on the rocks thinking he was comfortable, waves lapping round his feet and the wave came in and swept him off.
"Unfortunately, this is not the first time we have had this nature of call.
"We need to make the general public aware that they need to keep their wits about them when fishing off the rocks.
"They need to keep above the wave line. We would always recommend anybody working or fishing or doing anything close to the sea they should always wear a lifejacket."
Sam's family have said their only consolation is that his brother was there with him in his final moments.
"Lewis was with him, holding on to him tightly," said the pair's mum Leah Hunt.
Lifeboat spokesman Hugh Owen said: "We did our best but unfortunately your best is not always good enough, though not for a lack of trying.
"Everything that could possibly have been done, was done.
"Everybody pulled out all the stops but sadly it was not to be.
"In some circumstances there is nothing that can be done."
This last sentence is an especially sad comment to bear.  This article, written by Llanelli Star, had pretty  much given all the details of this sad case.  It all started with this fifteen year old young Sam being "swept off rocks by a "freak" wave on Gower while on holiday."  Again, not a unfamiliar plot that had happened times and again.  The teenage boy's older brother immediately leapt into the ocean to try to save him.  All the rescue efforts immediately set in motion.  They were successfully rescued the older brother but failed to get the younger brother, even the rescuing helecopter was not able to because of the waves.  Here again, the victim did not wearing a lifejacket, things will be different if he did.  One can not emphasize more strongly to listen to Mr. Davis' advise: " . . . anybody working or fishing or doing anything close to the sea they should always wear a lifejacket." Otherwise we can only sadly hearing Mr. Owen say: "We did our best but unfortunately your best is not always good enough, though not for a lack of trying. Everything that could possibly have been done, was done. Everybody pulled out all the stops but sadly it was not to be."  Sadly indeed.  Our condolences go to the family and may Sam be rest in peace!

Friday, August 03, 2012

Swept from Wales rocks into the sea, again!

This news article by Martin Robinson was published in today's U.K. Dailymail:
A Mersey schoolboy died after being swept from rocks into the sea while on a family holiday in Wales despite a valiant attempt by his older brother to save his life.
Fifteen-year-old Sam Capper was on holiday when he was washed away when a freak wave crashed against the slippery rocks where he was fishing.
The sporty teenager, from Birkenhead, Merseyside, drowned despite the valiant attempts of his older brother Lewis Hunt, 21, who battled dangerous rip currents to try and keep his sibling afloat.
At one point the University student managed to grab his brother's hands but they were ripped apart by the outgoing tide and strong offshore winds.
Lewis was in a serious condition yesterday at Morriston Hospital in Swansea with his father Phil, 42, and mother Leah, 41, keeping a vigil at his bedside.
Phil was taking his sons for their yearly camping trip at Llangennith on the Gower coast near Swansea.
The family had travelled from their home in Birkenhead, Merseyside, to visit the seaside campsite when the tragedy struck.
At around 8pm the pair, who are understood to have been camping nearby with their parents, were on slippery rocks in an area known as Bluepool Corner, when suddenly a 'huge wave' took the 15-year-old with it into the sea.
Lewis dived in to find him and managed to hold his hand as they were tossed around by the water, but a strong tide and winds separated them and took them around half a mile out to sea.
Leah said: 'Our only consolation in this terrible tragedy is that, at the end, Sam wasn’t on his own - Lewis was with him, holding on to him tightly.
'Sam, who most people knew as Spud, was a unique, amazing, boy who touched the lives of so many people with his generosity, kindness and infectious laugh.
'He loved his brothers and sisters and spent most of his time - when he wasn’t thinking about football - trying to help people and make people smile.
'He was a huge fan of Tranmere Rovers, though he also liked Arsenal - which caused a bit of good-natured rivalry with Lewis who supports Liverpool.
'Sam has left a gap in our lives and will be missed, not just by his family, but by everyone who knew him.'
Geraint Parry, principal of Sam's school the University Academy in Birkenhead, paid tribute.
It's a long and detailed article complete with pictures of family and sceneries, maps of where it happened, and Coast Guard's rescuje efforts.  The key part of the story is still at the very beginning where "he was washed away when a freak wave crashed against the slippery rocks where he was fishing."  A familiar plot we have seen many times before at different locations around the world.  As always there is not much to say or do except send our deepest sympathy to the family and echo the family friend's sentiment to the lost young man: "You will be missed very much. My heart goes out to you and your family. 'RIP little man.'"

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Rogue waves, the #1 Cruise Ship Mishap.

NBCNews just posted this article entitled "4 most common cruise ship mishaps" By Monica Kim of Condé Nast Traveler.  The mishaps are:  Rogue waves,  Storms, Fires, and Collisions.

Under Rogue waves they have this to say:
Rogue waves up to 100 feet tall are a spontaneous natural phenomenon that cannot easily be predicted. In 2005, the Grand Voyager of Iberojet Cruises was smacked by a wave that knocked out propulsion and communications systems and injured 20 passengers. In 2010, the Louis Majesty, operated by Louis Cruise Lines, was struck by 26-foot waves off the coast of France, smashing glass and killing two of the 1,400 passengers and injuring another 14.
Preventive measures: Ship windows are being strengthened, and scientists are studying the prevalence of rogue waves across the ocean so that ships can be warned to avoid high-risk areas.
Effectiveness: The unpredictable nature of these waves can make them difficult to forecast. Researchers are continuing to improve their methods, in the hope of one day developing a more accurate early-warning system.
Most common reason for failure: Lack of reliable data.
I think that's pretty good a concise assessment. Designating freaque wave as a "spontaneous" natural phenomenon is rather new.  While it is intuitively clear, I have yet to say anyone use it in the general academic sense.  I guess scientist generally are incapable of coping with spontaneous things.  I especially like their last statement: "Lack of reliable data!" which I feel it is the most accurate observation or diagnose but most scientists don't think to pay much attention to it.  Prevailing scientific views may be as long as one can solve complicated equations all the answers will naturally follow suit.  The only minor details that seemed inconvenient the who processes is how do we effectively place the complicated equations over to the real ocean wave surfaces?

Yes, a more accurate early-warming system can be expected to be successfully developed "one day", one of these days!  Rossy outlook is certainly always good to hear.  But in reality that day is a long way off, not in any-body's cross-hair yet!  As long as there's no reliable data continues, the hope of developing early-warning system will continue to be a never realized hope!

Shall we get some reliable data first, anyone?