Monday, January 05, 2015

Remembering a huge 'rogue' wave

This very intriguing news item is from the Eureka Times-Standard with an equally intriguing headline: "Remembering a huge 'rogue' wave"!
that was posted yesterday. This headline is actually the title of an event commemorating an event happened 100 years ago:
The Trinidad Head Lighthouse is shown here perched high up on Trinidad Head. In late 1914 and early 1915, Lighthouse Keeper Fred L. Harrington witnessed a massive wave that washed over Pilot Rock to the south and crashed into Trinidad Head, jarring the lens out of alignment. The Bureau of Land Management is partnering with the city of Trinidad, Trinidad Rancheria, Cher-Ae Heights Casino and the Trinidad Museum Society to host an event at the lighthouse on Jan. 10 from 2-5 p.m. to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the wave. The event is free of charge, and a shuttle will run hourly from the Seascape Restaurant to the lighthouse. For more information, call the BLM’s Arcata Field Office at 707-825-2313. Photo courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management
The article was written by Caly McGlaughlin.

This light house is one located in a spectacular location but not itself a spectacular building as one might expect. As McGlaughlin tells:
But 100 years ago, another type of weather extreme was battering the North Coast, as a “massive storm blew gale-force winds over this area for about two weeks” in 1914-15, according to Bureau of Land Management Interpretive Specialist Leisyka Parrott. Based on reports from the time, the storm caused a “200-foot wave that shook the Trinidad Head Lighthouse,” disturbing the lens and making life difficult for lighthouse keeper Fred L. Harrington and his wife, Josephine.
So they are going to have this special event to remembering this event! Since the main witnesses of this event are the lighthouse keeper and his wife, they no longer around, there was a newspaper interview as :

Firsthand account
According to an interview with Harrington published in a newspaper shortly after the event, “The storm commenced on Dec. 28, 1914, blowing a gale that night. The gale continued for a whole week and was accompanied by a very heavy sea from the southwest. On the 30th and 31st, the sea increased and at 3 p.m. on the 31st seemed to have reached its height, when it washed a number of times over (93-foot-high) Pilot Rock, a half mile south of the head.
“At 4:40 p.m., I was in the tower and had just set the lens in operation and turned to wipe the lantern room windows when I observed a sea of unusual height, then about 200 yards distant, approaching. I watched it as it came in. When it struck the bluff, the jar was very heavy, and the sea shot up to the face of the bluff and over it, until the solid sea seemed to me to be on a level with where I stood in the lantern,” Harrington said.
“Then it commenced to recede and the spray went 25 feet or more higher. The sea itself fell over onto the top of the bluff and struck the tower on about a level with the balcony, making a terrible jar. The whole point between the tower and the bluff was buried in water. The lens immediately stopped revolving and the tower was shivering from the impact for several seconds. Whether the lens was thrown off level by the jar on the bluff, or the sea striking the tower, I could not say. Either one would have been enough. However, I had it leveled and running in half an hour.
“About an hour later another sea threw spray up on the level of the bluff, and the constant jars of the heavy sea was much over normal during the night and the whole of the next day. On the 3rd, the sea moderated to some extent, but a strong southeast wind and high sea continued until the 5th. During the 26 years that I have been stationed here, there has at no time been a sea of any such size as that of the 31st experienced here: but once during that time have I known the spray to come onto the bluff in front of the tower, and but twice have I seen sea or spray go over Pilot Rock,” said Harrington.

What an event! Too bad I can't make it to Trinidad now, I would love to hear about all the remembrances! Look at the picture of the bluff where the lighthouse locates, there had to be much more than a "huge" wave to be able to get to that high. Yes, incredible it may seem, it DID happened!

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