Stab Magazine | Southern Hemisphere Cops Its Largest Ever Wave

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Southern Hemisphere Cops Its Largest Ever Wave

Who knew waves in the ocean were a thing anymore?

news // May 13, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Maybe global warming ain’t that bad after all. For years scientists have been claiming the negative effects of climate change and one of those is increased storms. And if there’s one thing storms are good for, it’s generating swell that Bodhi himself would be proud of.  

Now, while no single storm can be attributed to climate change, this particular storm off the New Zealand coast in the Southern Ocean managed to dish up the single biggest wave recorded in the Southern Hemisphere. 

A whopping 23.8 metres – or 78-feet for those still hanging onto the irrational pursuit that is the imperial system – was recorded near Campbell Island off New Zealand last Wednesday. 

Now while we’re talking about a big lump of likely unrideable ocean swell, it’s nice to know that Nazare isn’t the only place dishing out mountainous burgers. Turns out the Southern half can hold it’s own too. 

And since the buoy which measured this outer ocean lump only records for 20 minutes every three hours, there’s a significant chance even bigger waves went unrecorded:

“It is likely that the peak heights during this storm were actually much higher, with individual waves greater than 25m being possible as the wave forecast for the storm show larger wave conditions just north of the buoy location.” Dr Tom Durrant, a senior oceanographer, told the ABC. 

Have you checked the buoys? Photo. Dean Whannga

The swell event isn’t directly related to the blustery oversized rubbish blowing away the banks at Bondi at the moment, but it is connected to a bout of significant solid swells hitting the South Island the past couple days.

According to Tom Durrant, the poor old Californians – who’ve had a rough and abstinent winter – will even catch a sniff of the south’s offerings: “indeed surfers in California can expect energy from this storm to arrive at their shores in about a weeks’ time.”

K-Bay would’ve handled it.

It might not have been big enough to break the world record of 30.5 metres back in 1958 at Alaska’s Lituya Bay, but it was enough to nudge past the previous record of 22 metres off the Australian coast back in 2012. 

The only questions I have is why Ross Clarke Jones wasn’t on hand to give it a crack, why they haven’t attached a GoPro to these boys yet and when Waco wavepool will be capable of generating comparable swells?

For a moment there I’d completely forgotten waves in the ocean were ever a thing. 


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