Heavy Seas Alert: North Atlantic Storm Producing 19-Meter Significant Waves Near Main Shipping Lanes

Mike Schuler
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February 20, 2018

A satellite pass observes a max significant wave height of 61.23 feet in the North Atlantic on Tuesday, February 20, 2018. Credit: NOAA

An intense low pressure system in the North Atlantic was producing significant wave heights of an incredible 19 meters (62 feet) on Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service. 

This is a very dangerous storm with hurricane force winds and extreme waves in some of the main shipping lanes between Europe and the United States. 

NOAA NWS Ocean Prediction Center has been monitoring the system over the last few days and watched as it rapidly intensified overnight Saturday, developing hurricane force winds in excess of 64 knots by Sunday morning as forecast.

The latest NOAA OPC analysis now shows a frightening max significant wave height of 19 meters, up slightly from 18.3 meters (60 feet) detected earlier Tuesday. That’s the equivalent of a six-story building.

At these heights, this storm could set a new wave height record for this part of the Atlantic.

NOAA OPC significant wave height analysis shows an incredible max significant wave of 19 meters (62 feet) over the N Atlantic on February 20, 2018 at 1200 UTC. 

This storm poses an extreme danger to ships at sea as it has tracked eastward at a fairly low latitude over some of the main shipping channels connecting North Europe and Mediterranean ports and US East Coast and Gulf ports.

Keep in mind, significant wave height is the average height of the tallest one-third of waves (from trough to crest), so individual waves are likely to be much, much bigger.

The good news, however, is this monster is forecast to weaken rapidly over the next 24 hours.

A NOAA OPC wave height analysis shows significant waves of 18.3 meters (60 feet), February 20, 2018 at 06:00 UTC
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