A hurricane-force low-pressure system in the northwestern Pacific Ocean is living up to the hype, generating massive heights measured at over 57 feet!
Following up on forecasts calling for 55 ft. (17 m) wave heights, the National Weather Service’s Ocean Predication Center reported Wednesday that satellite altimeter readings have shown actual significant wave heights of greater than 45 feet over an enormous 400 nm swath of ocean, with the highest wave height recorded at 57.87 feet (that’s 17.6 meters!).
“While this is certainly not an everyday storm, it is worth mentioning we do see these kind of extreme significant wave height values (primarily measured by altimeter instruments, but occasionally by buoys) a few times per season over both the N Pacific and N Atlantic basins,” the NWS said in its update on Wednesday.
Remember, significant wave height is the average height of the highest one-third of waves, so individual wave heights are likely much taller. The highest significant wave height ever recorded was 19 meters (62.3 feet!), as measured by a buoy in the North Atlantic in 2013. A committee of the World Meteorological Organization confirmed the new world record last year.
Instruments flying aboard the Jason-3 satellite also ‘measure’ ocean surface wind speed and direction. The two ASCAT images below help illustrate the sprawling size, intensity, structure, and movement of the hurricane force low, located in the NW Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea.
“This system developed as a rapidly intensifying extratropical cyclone over the past few days, and was enhanced by the absorption of post-tropical cyclone Lan,” the NWS said on Tuesday.