FREAK WAVES, UNUSUALLY HIGH TIDES
Wave Watch – Track significant wave heights and directions in the Indian Ocean.
Dozens of the world’s small island nations appealed Wednesday for rapid international action against climate change, fearing it is only a matter of time before they are submerged. Delegates from 26 low-lying nations, including Tuvalu, Micronesia, Kiribati and Palau, ended two-days of talks by closing ranks ahead of a global climate change meeting in Bali in December. A United Nations climate panel recently said world sea levels are likely to rise up to 59 centimetres (23 inches) by 2100. “We are seeing UNUSUAL rises in sea water levels, it’s affecting our crops, homes, it’s threatening our livelihoods,” said Fiji’s Environment Minister. “Time is running out.” The Maldivian President also warned that a one-metre rise in sea levels would herald the “death of a nation.” Scientific opinion is divided on how soon that could happen, with estimates ranging from 30 to 100 years. The tidal surges experienced on 80 of the Maldives’ 200 inhabited islands earlier this year were “a grim reminder of the devastating tsunami of 2004 and a clear warning of future disasters.”
NETHERLANDS – The Dutch enjoy a hard-earned reputation for building river dikes and sea barriers. Over centuries, they have transformed a flood-prone river delta into a wealthy nation roughly twice the size of New Jersey. If scientific projections for global warming are right, however, that success will be sorely tested. Globally, sea levels may rise up to a foot during the early part of this century, and up to nearly three feet by century’s end. This would bring higher tidal surges from the more-intense coastal storms that scientists also project, along with the risk of more frequent and more severe river floods from intense rainfall inland. Nowhere are adaptation planning efforts to address rising sea levels and flooding more advanced than in the Netherlands. Powerful pumps long ago replaced the signature windmills. But in the 1990s, “for the first time, rainfall was so heavy and intense that our pumping systems could not cope. On such a large scale,” the inability of pumps to keep pace with rainfall was “SOMETHING WE HAD NOT EXPERIENCED BEFORE.” By buying out a few farmers, breaching the dikes they built to protect their land, and digging additional water channels, the Dutch government aims to reduce peak flood flows at Dordrecht and other cities downstream. No longer will tightly constricted river and canal channels hold high water captive. Big floods will overspread the Biesbosch, reducing the threat of water spilling over the top of levees that guard densely populated cities to the west. The Biesbosch may also be critical to the future of farming on the productive southwest coast. There, most of the area’s fresh water sources are close to the coast – and vulnerable to salt-water contamination from a rising North Sea. This could make farming difficult, if not impossible.
Nearly 40 percent of the world’s 6.6 billion people within 60 miles of a seacoast. If current trends continue through 2050, flooding in the Nile, Mekong, and Ganges-Brahmaputra river deltas could each displace more than 1 million people. Up to a million more may be forced to head for higher ground in each of another nine deltas, including the Mississippi River delta. Netherlands officials may ask their developers to use a technique that dates back centuries: building houses, even whole villages, on mounds. That low-tech approach is appearing in other parts of the world, too. Oxfam International is working with villages in Bangladesh to build individual homes and even small villages on flood-resistant mounds. The government plans to spend $3.2 billion to make changes to its rivers. Meanwhile, along the coast, the big worry is not about any average increase in sea level, which scientists project to rise here between 35 and 85 cm (14 to 33 inches) by 2100. Instead, the biggest concern is the change in storm-surge patterns that will ride atop that rise. Some researchers say that in the US Northeast, midcentury coastal winter storms could lead to flood levels every three or four years – floods of a severity that used to occur only once every 100 years. Netherlands planners aim for a 10,000-year storm for the country’s most vulnerable areas. And even that may be inadequate. “When you do an economic assessment of the damage, and what you can afford to [spend to] avoid that damage, a better safety level would be a recurrence of 1 in 100,000 years.” One storm like that could cost the country up to a year’s worth of gross domestic product.
OREGON – Mysterious brown waves are freaking out visitors to the Oregon coast – especially the Seaside area. But there’s nothing inexplicable about it. “Seaside is experiencing a large diatom bloom, which is painting the surf brown and littering the beach with foam.” Diatoms are the tiny phytoplanktons that actually form the sea foam that you see on the beaches. With the calm conditions the coastal beaches are seeing now, after the stormy winds and high, broiling surf of Monday that churned up lots of foam, there’s a large amount of stuff all over the beaches. But especially foam and its creators – diatoms – have been roughed up and agitated into making a big appearance. The result is waves with a lot of brown in them, brown goo lying around the beaches in the form of foam, and large tracts of dark, oily-looking spots on the sand. The phenomenon is happening all over the coast, but especially around Seaside. (photos)
Tidal surge ‘devastation’ averted by minutes – The tidal surge in Britain that forced the emergency services to evacuate more than 1,000 people from their homes and urge the residents of thousands of others to batten down the hatches, came within eight inches of engulfing the East Coast. The Environment Agency admitted that the region had been within a “hair’s breadth” of disaster, and that it was only good fortune that averted a catastrophe. The FREAK surge striking East Anglia and Kent missed the high tide by minutes, allowing flood defences to hold out and protect thousands of homes. The agency said that if the waters had risen by a further eight inches, it would have caused “utter devastation”. “We were a hair’s breadth away from disaster, it really was that close.” The tides along the coast were as high as they were in 1953, when a flood claimed the lives of 300 people. Not all towns and villages were spared, however. The brunt of the surge was borne by the Norfolk village of Walcott, 20 miles north of Great Yarmouth, where the flood defence wall crumbled under the pressure of water. Houses along a 300-yard stretch of seafront had their conservatories smashed to pieces and lawns torn up. Elsewhere windows were blown out and brick walls destroyed. (photos)
BRITAIN – The East Anglian coast escaped the predicted tidal surge devastation, but meteorologists say climate change means storms will increase tenfold by the end of the century. The extreme weather which threatened hundreds of lives and prompted mass evacuations in the east of England this week will become far more common over the next few decades, scientists warned. Such meteorological events currently have led to extreme flooding about once a century, but by the end of the century that will have risen to once a decade. During this week’s event, the feared catastrophe did not materialise only because the surge did not coincide with high tide. Climate change means there is more unpredictable energy in the atmosphere, which can lead to periods of low pressure. “It’s to do with more surges in the atmosphere.”
NETHERLANDS – The north-west storm that raced over the Netherlands with wind speeds of more than 100 kilometres per hour caused RECORD-HIGH WATER LEVELS. The harbour of Vlieland, one of the northern islands in the North Sea, flooded Friday morning. Flooding also occurred in Terschelling and Ameland, two other islands in the North Sea. Strong winds of 100kph are not exceptional for this time of the year in the Netherlands, but it is the combination of wind direction, rain and a seawater level that was already high prior to the storm that caused the state of alert. Elsewhere in the country, the first strong autumn storm of 2007 in the Netherlands caused damage to public and personal property. In the province of Noord-Brabant, rooftops of homes were damaged and trees fell on cars. In several places located near the sea, local flooding occurred. The whole north-east coast of the Netherlands remained on high alert throughout Friday.
Sneaker Waves – Sneaker waves are common and often catch people off guard while standing onshore. You can’t see them and they are impossible to predict. These occur when smaller waves pile up on top each other to form one large wave – sometimes twice as large as the previous sets. Also, they can carry large pieces of debris with them such as logs, which present a whole set of other dangers. Sneaker waves are a universal coastal phenomenon, although they are known to be more common in some areas than others. In the United States, northern California, Oregon and Washington are particularly affected. They can occur at anytime, even if it is calm and the surf is small. In Oregon, there were a couple of incidences last winter where people were injured or swept out to sea by sneaker waves. That includes a pair of women at Gleneden Beach, near Lincoln City, whose bodies were never found after a walk on a stormy beach ended in tragedy. Even cars were damaged in recent years. At the cove in Seaside, during large storms when the surf is huge, enormous sneaker waves have come up into the parking lot, abruptly and without notice, littering it with large cove rocks and debris and denting cars in the process. (photos)
BRITAIN – Flood evacuees in on the east coast were today told they could return to their homes after fears of a devastating tidal wave evaporated. The worst appeared to be over, although plans were still in place in case of a deterioration in conditions. “The peak has passed without major incident although there was localised flooding.” Tides looked higher than usual and provided surfers with dramatic conditions, but flood defences held in most places. Those who live along or visit parts of the Lincolnshire coast are being warned about a possible surge later between 3pm and 7pm today. “Our advice is to avoid going onto the beaches along the east coast for the next couple of days.” At Ness Point, Britain’s most easterly extremity, waves were reaching heights of at least 20ft as they crashed against sea defences. Storm surges occur when severe gales pushing on the sea’s surface and extremely low pressure combine to produce a mass of water moving across the sea. (photos)[see item below for the original threat.]
UNITED KINGDOM, NETHERLANDS, DENMARK, GERMANY – A storm in the North Sea has left Britain and the Netherlands facing the WORST FLOOD THREAT IN DECADES with tidal surges predicted early today. A tidal surge of up to 3m (10ft) was making its way down the North Sea, and it could coincide with peak high tides. Flood defences have been put on alert on the entire Dutch coast and flood warnings are in place for the eastern and northern coasts of Britain. A tidal wave in 1953 killed more than 2,000 people in both countries. Oil platforms have been closed off the Norwegian coast and gales are expected in Germany and Denmark. The Dutch transport ministry said this was THE FIRST TIME SINCE 1976 THAT THE WHOLE NORTH SEA COAST WAS UNDER ALERT. Authorities closed the giant Maeslant barrier that guards entrance to the largest port in Europe in Rotterdam, for the first time since its construction in the 1990s. In Britain, the Thames River and Dartford Creek barriers are being shut as waters are forecast to surge 1.5 metres (5 feet) above normal sea levels. The Met Office was predicting THE HIGHEST TIDE SINCE 1983 in Felixstowe, Suffolk. UK government warned large areas of Norfolk and Kent coasts were at risk of severe flooding and the Met Office warned of gusts of up to 145km/h (90mph) for the Orkney and Shetland islands in Scotland. The storm surge is expected to peak around dawn today, and several hundred people have left their homes near Great Yarmouth in Norfolk. Severe gale warnings were issued in Germany and Denmark, with wind gusts of up to 125km/h (80mph) expected. In Germany, regions around the Elbe and Elm rivers were under flood warnings. The North Sea storm affected oil industry in Norway, the fifth largest exporter of crude in the world, with the closure of oil platforms off its coast. Norway’s oil production of 220,000 barrels per day is expected to be slashed by 10% possibly leading to increases in the price of crude, already at record levels.
AFRICA – Around a third of Africa’s existing coastline could be swallowed up by rising water levels brought on by global warming, by the end of this century, the United Nations’ top environment official said on Thursday. The impact of climate change is already clearly in evidence and will become more serious in the coming years. “We know that we are on the course of having sea-levels rising from 20 (7.8 inches) to 60 centimetres (23.6 inches) in this century.” The continent is already experiencing “major coastal erosion”, calcification of shellfish under the increasing heat, and dramatic shifts in currents, as new climactic phenomena appear.
CALIFORNIA – Storm brings big waves to Southern California beaches – Wednesday waves up to 9 feet were crashing on Southland beaches, the product of a distant storm. “Basically, this is a storm that started out in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s a late-season storm and pretty significant … one of the largest of the season since April.” Most beaches are getting sets of 5-7 feet, but some southwest-facing ones, such as Manhattan Beach, are getting occasional sets up to 9 feet. “Because of the long periods between the max sets, it makes it especially dangerous for people to get out on rocks.” In Newport Beach on April 10, a couple fishing on the east jetty at the mouth of the harbor were swept into the ocean and killed by a big wave. A high surf advisory remains in place through 4 a.m. today. Drivers headed for the coast should be ready for dense fog. The period between waves is 12-15 seconds, and water temperatures are around 60 degrees. In Malibu and closer to the Ventura County line, the temperature was around 55 degrees. The rip current risk is high. The big waves crashing on the beach are carving trenches as the water runs back toward the ocean, and that creates something akin to miniature rivers running away from shore. “Anytime you have high surf, it erodes spots along the beach into channels.” Low-lying areas, such as Seal Beach, could see some flooding. The high tide arrived around 8 p.m. Wednesday.
FLORIDA – Scientists say Florida can expect more frequent and destructive hurricanes, hotter weather and rising sea levels that could inundate coastal areas. The chairman of the University of Miami’s Department of Geological Sciences predicted a 1.5 foot rise in sea level in 50 years and a three- to five-foot increase by the end of the century. At two feet, South Florida would still be livable.. “Three feet’s going to get messy. Four feet becomes extremely difficult to live in South Florida and five feet probably impossible.” Scientists don’t yet have a clear picture of whether climate change will make Florida wetter or drier, but either way the forecast is for heavier rains that are fewer and far between, creating a potential for flood and drought.
VIETNAM – Ho Chi Minh City will see RECORD HIGH TIDES within the next few days and can expect widespread flooding if the predicted heavy rains appear at the same time. The Southern Hydrometeorology Station says the Saigon and Dong Nai rivers will peak between Friday and Monday and reach 1.49 meters at Phu An on Sunday. As large volumes of water are released from the dams, outlying areas of the city should experience flooding during this period. The swollen waters could even breach embankments. In the already devastated central region, river levels in Binh Dinh, Khanh Hoa, Ninh Thuan, Quang Ngai and Phu Yen reached alarming levels on Thursday, and the rivers in Quang Nam, Ninh Thuan and Gia Lai were continuing to rise. Heavy rain in Khanh Hoa put many roads 30 centimeters underwater and disrupted traffic severely. The storms also caused landslides in Da Lat in the highlands and generated twisters in Quang Nam farther up the coast. Heavy flooding has been hitting all parts of the country since last month, making hundreds of families homeless and inundating large areas of agricultural land.
PAKISTAN – Twelve people, including three children, drowned Monday while picnicking on a beach during the Eid holiday near Pakistan’s main port city on the Arabian Sea. Strong waves struck a group of 15 picnickers who had waded far into the sea at the Gadani beach about 40 kilometers (25 miles) southwest of Karachi. Twelve people drowned while two others were pulled safely from the sea by rescuers.
NIUE – Help us, we’re sinking, says Niue. The leader of the tiny Pacific nation of Niue has begged developed nations to urgently act on climate change, saying his country could be uninhabitable within decades. His country and other small Pacific nations are facing catastrophe if sea levels rise. “It is very serious because if they (the biggest polluting nations) don’t listen now, and we don’t do something now, we are gone. That is for sure, and we are scared. The problem is huge and I think the voices of the Pacific islands have been yelling for the last 15 or 20 years and nobody is listening…I am not a scientist, but I have been told our time is very short … I think a few decades, it is very short.”
Twenty-one major cities around the world are at risk of having areas swamped by rising sea levels from global warming, a think-tank has warned. New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Bangkok, Jakarta, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Shanghai, Cairo, Mumbai and Karachi were among the “highly vulnerable” cities at risk. “Although natural disasters are often presented as rare and unexpected tragedies, the reality is they now occur more frequently, affect more people and cause bigger economic damage than ever before”. The world is already “seeing hints” of the way climate change will affect cities by amplifying natural hazards including rising sea levels. In the last century the oceans rose by between 9cm and 20cm and scientists predict further increases of up to 88cm by 2100. Cities will need to plan ahead to avoid disaster.
THAILAND – A young British woman was the lone survivor of a flash flood that swept her boyfriend and seven other tourists to their deaths in a cave in southern Thailand. She was left clinging to a ledge for hours after the FREAK WAVE washed through Nam Talu cave in Khao Sok national park. Reports said that a group leaving the cave complex had warned the party not to go in. She said she was unaware of any such warnings.
IVORY COAST – The historic old colonial town of Grand Lahou is in danger of being swallowed up by the sea. Some predict the town will be under water in 10 years. Once one of the first points of contact between Africans and the French, Grand Lahou is threatened by a combination of climate change and other factors. If it does disappear under the waves it will be something like a second death for the town. First the imposing old French colonial buildings were abandoned, and now the current ramshackle houses that sprang up alongside the old French buildings are threatened. “We have rebuilt our house 20 metres away. But I am still scared. The way the sea keeps rising, it is certain to reach there too.” Residents of this poor fishing community don’t want to move away from their sources of income – the sea and the nearby lagoon. But a combination of the sea to the front and the water behind is killing Grand Lahou. The uncontrolled mouth of the river Bandama is attacking the town from behind, while the sea is eroding it from the front. Most of the town’s inhabitants have moved to a new town, Nouveau Lahou, some 15km (9.4 miles) away. But several hundred are still here. The problem is not restricted to Grand Lahou either. Erosion is affecting much of Ivory Coast’s coastline, and indeed many other places in West Africa. But solutions are extremely costly. (photos)
Conservation experts are to reverse five centuries of British history and deliberately allow rising sea levels to flood a huge stretch of reclaimed Essex coastline. In the most ambitious and expensive project of its type, the RSPB intends to puncture sea defences around Wallasea island, near Southend, and turn 728 hectares (1,800 acres) of farmland into a mosaic of saltmarsh, creeks and mudflats – making mainland Britain just a little bit smaller. Generations of farmers have worked the land there for 500 years, since Dutch settlers first built a wall wall around the remote strip of coast; the RSPB wants to transform the area into a wildlife reserve. As the sea returns, so should otters, wild plants, fish and birds, some of which have not nested in the UK for more than 400 years. ” We will be restoring habitats that were lost more than 400 years ago and preparing the land for sea level rise. This is land that was borrowed from the sea that now the sea is reclaiming.” Similar projects are under way in Germany, the United States, Denmark and Holland.
SOUTH AFRICA – The giant surf that pounded Durban’s coastline in March this year caused damage estimated at R115-million – and it will take at least another two years before the city’s beaches and infrastructure are fully repaired. This figure does not include damage suffered to private property, which would push the estimate significantly higher. And the bad news is that surf of similar force and intensity – or even greater – can be expected within the next few years. The sea level is rising along the South African coast. Durban’s sea level is rising by about 2.7mm a year.
ATLANTIC – The combination of an area of high pressure off the Northeast coast and the low pressure in the tropics has created a broad, strong northeasterly wind blowing over a long fetch of the Atlantic. The strong onshore winds have produced large waves and rough surf from Florida to the Carolinas. Severe beach erosion was reported on Tybee Island and Sapelo Island in Georgia. Several lifeguard towers were destroyed on Tybee Island and turtle nesting grounds on Sapelo Island were wiped out. Coastal flooding was reported in Charleston, S.C., and Jacksonville Beach, Fla.
MALAYSIA – About 50 endangered sea turtles have washed ashore with logs and debris in Malaysia, possibly due to strong currents after recent earthquakes in Indonesia. Two of the hawksbill turtles, which landed Saturday on muddy Kuala Tunjang beach in the northwestern state of Kedah, were found dead, while four others were injured and being treated. The rest of the turtles have been released into the sea. The logs and bamboo which washed ashore with the turtles were not found in Malaysia, and the plastic water bottles and shampoo containers in the debris had Indonesian labels. “We believe the logs are from Indonesia” and washed over to Kedah by strong currents following recent tremors in Indonesia. Indonesia’s Sumatra island, separated from peninsular Malaysia’s west coast by the narrow Strait of Malacca, has been rattled by a series of strong earthquakes that killed nearly two dozen people last month. This is the first time hawksbill turtles have been found in Kuala Tunjang, although some had nested in other parts of the state some years ago.
PHILIPPINES – Nine houses were destroyed, while nine others were damaged, when strong waves hit a coastal village on Saturday night. The waves also displaced at least 77 families in Barangay (village) 76-A in Bucana District. Houses near the shore were destroyed when strong waves suddenly hit the village at around 7 p.m. Saturday. Three persons were hurt when wooden house materials fell on them.
FLORIDA – Stormy weather took a bite out of local beaches Sunday, leaving residents gawking at damage to Bathtub Reef Beach in Stuart. Winds gusted to about 30 miles per hour in some areas of Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast, causing such serious erosion on Hutchinson Island that visitors lifted yellow police caution tape to scamper up a sand berm for a better look at waves stealing sand from Bathtub Reef Beach. Officials closed Bathtub Reef Beach last week after erosion exposed tree trunks and roots at the popular swimming spot on Hutchinson Island. They also trucked in a dozen loads of sand to build a berm along the parking lot. But the weekend’s gusty northeastern winds sent a steady spray up and over the berm and nearby fences. Muddy, grayish-colored water pooled in the parking lot and ran in rivulets to the road below. A lifeguard station at one end of the beach tilted precariously toward the water; steps that weeks before led from the boardwalk down onto the beach dropped off into choppy waves Sunday. Palm Beach County’s erosion was most noticeable in areas north of Juno Beach. A resident who has lived at Ocean Trail in Jupiter for almost 30 years said weekend waves were some of the worst she has seen. Lifeguards flew a red flag for extreme waves Sunday, but surfers and strong swimmers still made their way out to the water. The waves washed sea turtle eggs from their nesting site on the beach into the grass over the seawall. Bathtub Reef Beach is susceptible to erosion because of its rocky shoreline and reefs. Large waves and strong winds blowing in just the right direction can devastate the area and the recent erosion is THE WORST IN DECADES. (photos)
FLORIDA – High winds were expected today and warnings were out about possible flooding on the east coast of Central Florida. Forecasters are expecting high winds and massive waves anywhere from 8 to 10 feet high. The high waves could mean more beach erosion is on the way. Beach patrol said they have concerns for next weekend. They said the high wave action this weekend might change the makeup of the sand underneath the water and could create dangerous rip currents for the following week.
PHILIPPINES – 1 died, 3 survived as waves hit boat in Manila Bay – A fisherman died, while three others survived after huge waves struck their boat sailing near the Manila International Container Terminal Port on Saturday afternoon. The four fishermen were about to sail from Manila Bay when big waves hit their boat.
SCOTLAND – More than 10,000 of the most important ancient and historical sites around Scotland’s coastline are at risk of being destroyed by the storms and rising sea levels that will come with global warming. Sites in jeopardy include the neolithic settlement of Skara Brae on Orkney and the prehistoric ruins at Jarlshof on Shetland. Others under threat range from Viking burial boats to Iron Age brochs and Mesolithic middens. New surveys for Historic Scotland reveal that the remains of communities up to 9000 years old could be lost forever due to accelerating coastal erosion. The potential loss is incalculable and has alarmed experts. “While people argue over whether climate change is leading to sea level rise and an increase in stormy weather, the coast continues to erode. Although wildlife and the natural habitat may be able to recover, ancient sites will be destroyed forever, and the remnants of our ancestors will be lost.”
INDIA – On Sunday all vehicular traffic was prohibited in Puri along the marine drive road link from Hotel Dreamland towards the Sterling resorts following the wash out of the road by tidal sea waves. About one-and-a-half kilometers of the newly built road is being eroded out every day by huge tidal sea waves, particularly during the full moon and no moon days, reducing the width of the road. Although the authorities were busy piling sand bags and planting bushes along the roadsides to prevent damage, the sea has often been shifting its attack from one place to another. The hotel and apartment owners alongside the marine drive are now spending sleepless nights during the high tide periods. (photo)
SOUTH AFRICA – Coastal areas in KwaZulu-Natal are bracing themselves for high waves and strong winds ahead of the Spring equinox today. The South African Weather Service says the expected increase in the wave height along the province’s coastline is cause for concern. High waves caused severe damage along the KZN coast at the time of the Autumn equinox in March this year. Over the next three days temperatures are expected to drop and wind speed will pick up. “The swells will increase. What’s going to happen is that as the big south west comes through it will pick up the swell size initially two and a half to three metres and overnight into Monday increasing it to between three and four metres coupled with very rough seas. I think it’s a call for concern in terms of people being cautious along the beach. I don’t know in terms of how it will affect parts of the coastline but swells are obviously going to increase causing bigger waves and probably breaking further along the shore.”
Rising seas likely to flood U.S. history – Ultimately, rising seas will likely swamp the first American settlement in Jamestown, Virginia, as well as the Florida launch pad that sent the first American into orbit, many climate scientists are predicting. In about a century, some of the places that make America what it is may be slowly erased. Global warming — through a combination of melting glaciers, disappearing ice sheets and warmer waters expanding — is expected to cause oceans to rise by one meter, or about 39 inches. It will happen regardless of any future actions to curb greenhouse gases, several leading scientists say. And it will reshape the nation. Rising waters will lap at the foundations of old money Wall Street and the new money towers of Silicon Valley. They will swamp the locations of big city airports and major interstate highways. Some scientists believe it could happen in 50 years, others say 100, and still others say 150. “We’re going to get a meter and there’s nothing we can do about it. It’s going to happen no matter what — the question is when.” Protecting America’s coastlines would run well into the billions and not all spots could be saved. “We’re going to be into this big national debate about what we protect and at what cost.” Even a scientist often quoted by global warming skeptics says he figures the seas will rise at least 16 inches by the end of the century. But he tells people to prepare for a rise of about three feet just in case. It’s “not unreasonable at all” to expect that much in 100 years. “We’ve had a third of a meter in the last century.” The change will be a gradual process, one that is so slow it will be easy to ignore – for a while. “Sea level rise is going to have more general impact to the population and the infrastructure than almost anything else that I can think of.”
AUSTRALIA – There are bleak predictions about the impact of climate change on the future of Australia’s tropical birds. Scientists are warning that sea levels in northern Australia are already rising by around eight millimetres a year, so fast that salt water could flood thousands of kilometres of pristine wetland. That would destroy vast areas of tropical bird habitat, putting 66 species at risk of extinction. At greatest risk are birds with the smallest range that have nowhere left to go, as well as water birds from magpie geese, to ducks, herons, ibis and egrets. “Within sort of three generations of the bird you could see a 50, 70 per cent decline. We really don’t know how fast it’s going to happen, but it’s so flat, and you could imagine that a few big tides could kill off large areas of suitable habitat and the birds simply wouldn’t find food.” Within 30 years, up to 66 species could be threatened in wetlands, rainforests and grassland savannas. Already in the Top End, saltwater incursion is destroying wetland areas near Kakadu National Park. Rising salinity will only destroy more trees and mangroves, leaving a wasteland of salt and mud. Sea levels in Northern Australia could rise by 70 centimetres in the next century, wreaking devastation further and further inland. “As the sea level rise occurs, the tidal wedge – that’s the amount of water that actually moves upstream driven by the tide – will get further and further inland, and the proportion of salt that it’s mixing into the freshwater from the river will become greater and greater, so the salt levels will rise.” Australia’s National Tidal Facility has measured water movements for decades. Its research shows sea levels across northern Australia are rising four times faster than the global average. Scientists do not know why northern Australia is seeing a faster sea level rise.
FREAK WAVES / HIGH TIDES -
VIETNAM – Broken dykes and river levees on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City have worsened the inner-city flooding that usually occurs at this time of the year. Heavy rain and FREAK TIDES on August 31 damaged, and in some cases destroyed, entire sections of retaining banks and walls along the Saigon River. In one case, the tide rose to 1.35 meters at the Phu An station in District 1, way above the normal level for this time of year.
INDONESIA – Six people were still missing Sunday off Citepus Beach in Sukabumi, West Java, after high waves forced a search and rescue team to suspend operations. The six people went missing Saturday after being swept out to sea by FREAK WAVES. Another person is known to have died in the incident.
INDONESIA – Two ships, including one from Singapore, ran aground Saturday off the coast of Cilacap in Central Java. The ships were en route to Pelabuhan Tanjung Intan in Cilacap from South Kalimantan, but high seas caused them to run aground before reaching their destination. Efforts to push the ships back out to sea have been unsuccessful since Saturday morning due to rough conditions.
AUSTRALIA – the shoreline north of Sydney was suddenly transformed into the Cappuccino Coast on August 27. Foam swallowed an entire beach and half the nearby buildings, including the local lifeguards’ centre, in a FREAK display of nature at Yamba in New South Wales. Storms off the New South Wales Coast and further north off Queensland had created a huge disturbance in the ocean, hitting a stretch of water where there was a particularly high amount of the substances which form into bubbles. One minute a group of teenage surfers were waiting to catch a wave, the next they were swallowed up in a giant bubble bath. The foam was so light that they could puff it out of their hands and watch it float away. It stretched for 30 miles out into the Pacific in a phenomenon NOT SEEN AT THE BEACH FOR MORE THAN THREE DECADES. The foam is created by impurities in the ocean, such as salts, chemicals, dead plants, decomposed fish and excretions from seaweed. All are churned up together by powerful currents which cause the water to form bubbles. These bubbles stick to each other as they are carried below the surface by the current towards the shore. As a wave starts to form on the surface, the motion of the water causes the bubbles to swirl upwards and, massed together, they become foam. The foam “surfs” towards shore until the wave “crashes”, tossing the foam into the air. (crazy photos)
SOUTH AFRICA – Sweeping, foam capped waves smashing into already devastated beaches and coastal properties – that is what KwaZulu-Natal authorities are bracing themselves for with massive plans to prevent another coastal wave disaster. Coastal engineers, municipalities, together with department of agriculture and environmental affairs scientists are preparing for another onslaught from Mother Nature. Celestial conditions mimicking March’s devastating equinox coupled with high tides is again expected this September, and officials are not taking any chances. Although there are two equinoxes each year (March 20 and September 22), it’s the celestial events coupled with bad weather and spring high tides that could see monster waves being created. “In terms of preparedness and awareness, the department and other listed stakeholders have been working on this since March this year.” Municipalities devastated by almost three days of FREAK WAVE activity in March have now warned of the financial ruin they could face if storm activity combines with the September equinox during high tides. “We are trying to stabilise the situation. We think it will be fairly quiet provided the sea behaves, but if there is a sea storm or cold front at the same time we could see more erosion.” Further south the Ugu District Municipality, which had a R113-million hole knocked into its budget by the waves, says it is monitoring the situation. More erosion and damage has also been reported in the Margate and Park Rynie areas. “We are aware of the expected Equinox but at the moment we can only monitor and observe the situation. We know that the ocean is unstable and previous damage to the coastline proves that. All necessary precautions will be taken.” KwaDukuza disaster management officials have adopted a wait and see attitude after private and municipal infrastructure valued at more than R1 billion was swept away in March. The head of disaster management said he hoped that the “perfect storm” conditions were not repeated in September. “Yes, we are going to get high seas and with the frontal dunes not being there the water will sweep higher. Facilities are more exposed and there is no protection. People have protected where they have had to, but thus far there has been no major construction mainly because of the environmental authorisation needed. “We will monitor it and hope it does not happen, but we say this now, and tomorrow it happens.”
SRI LANKA – Caught in surging waves in rough sea amid a fresh low over the Bay of Bengal, two ships with cargo capsized off the Chittagong seaport while another ran aground in Barisal Saturday. Twelve crewmen were rescued by trawlers and boats. “Port’s two tugboats tried to locate the sunken ship several times, but failed due to stormy weather.” A Dhaka-bound oil tanker, carrying 13,000 tonnes of fuel oil, also sank in the Sandwip Channel at noon as the calamitous weather conditions continued to prevail. Port tugboats rescued all the 12 crew. Meanwhile, another oil tanker got caught in strong wind and ran aground at Ramdaspur in southern Barisal district early in the morning. It got stranded on a shoal at about 5am. The lighter ship could not be salvaged until evening. Thirteen crewmen of the ship were rescued by a port rescue team.
INDIA – At least 13 houses were washed away and three more houses damaged under the impact of high tidal waves in Podampeta, a sea-side village in Ganjam district. The powerful waves lashed the village inhabited mostly by fishermen during the last two days. Alarmed over another depression formed over the Bay of Bengal, the district administration asked the fishermen families residing very close to the sea to shift to the nearby cyclone shelter.
TASMANIA – Retreating floodwaters have revealed a massive clean-up challenge for towns. The tiny North-East town of Branxholm was one of the hardest hit, with the State Emergency Service reporting 40 homes had to be evacuated. Of those, 26 were inundated, causing damage. Four families at nearby Derby had to take refuge with friends and family. At Forth, in the North-West, eight houses were evacuated. Businesses in Huonville in the South began mopping out their shopfronts after FREAK TIDES and the rising Huon River inundated the town on Friday. As the threat eased, many returned home to a sea of water. Others saw bizarre sights, with broccoli washing up on Turners Beach from a vegetable farm at Forth. In some regions, the floods reached one-in-100-year levels.
ALGERIA – Ten days after the sinking of 12 vacationers in Mostaganem, local authorities have not lifted a finger to unveil the facts, and media are promoting a “micro-tsunami” whose reasons are still unknown. The Civil Protection Regional Department made it clear that “dead in the incident taking place last Friday, August 3rd 2007 are estimated at 12; and 126 have been rescued from a genuine death danger who swam in uncontrolled beaches.” This mere clarification, ten days after the incident that took 12 lives, has not dissipated widespread rumors that mention a seven-to-ten-meter wave that washed away many people. The odd thing is that the “Huge” wave has chosen to affect only people, not anything else, as civil protection services have recorded no property damages.
UNITED KINGDOM – An island community in Orkney could be split in two, unless urgent repairs are made to damaged sea defences. That’s the warning from islanders in Sanday where there’s growing concern about the time it’s taking to sort out the problem. It’s a dismal sight – saturated farm land lies under water, fences are strewn with rotting seaweed and a farm road is left all but impassable by the flooding. And it’s been like this for many months now. Earlier this year a big tide and a severe storm combined to blast away the sea defences that once stood here. The community’s been calling for action ever since and says repairs are now urgently needed. At some points the island is less than a mile wide and the big concern is the potential impact if there’s a repeat of the conditions that wrecked the sea defences. “If you look back far enough in history you’ll find that Sanday was originally several islands that have become joined together over the centuries by the gaps between them silting up with sand. What seems to be happening now is that the reverse is taking place and the sand is being washed out again.” Back in the 1950s that almost happened. “It came a heavy northerly gale and an extremely high tide, and it breached the foreshore at the black wall and broke through, cut the island very nearly in two.” (photo)
SCOTLAND – Police warn risk-takers as three die in ‘unpredictable’ Scottish waters – Two members of the same family were swept to their deaths by a giant wave as they clambered onto rocks to take photographs. In a separate incident, another man drowned after he went swimming in Loch Lomond in early Sunday morning. “We would advise people not to take risks around the coastline as the waves and weather can be very unpredictable.” The two deaths take the toll of drowning in the area to six in the space of just ten weeks.
INDIA – The sea continued to be turbulent in Kanyakumari and Rameswaram coasts for the third day Sunday. The waves were quite high and pilgrims were not allowed to enter at Dhanushkodi point, officials said. The body of a 19-year-old engineering college student, who drowned in the sea following high waves Saturday, was washed ashore yesterday.
INDIA – Seawater ingress in some parts of Marina on Friday gave anxious moments to the visitors to the beach. According to eyewitnesses, tidal waves swept beyond the shore in the afternoon, creating a scare. The tidal wave activity contributed to the pond of rainwater on the shore opposite Vivekananda Illam. The sea is usually rough during the full and new moon period. Fishermen said the sea had been rough for nearly five days and it made them jobless and kept their boats and nets idle. Fishermen along the Marina coast in Nochikuppam, Doomingkuppam, Mullaimanagar and Srinivasapuram were affected. Regional Meteorological Centre officials said no earthquake was recorded anywhere near the Indian coastal waters.
The high tidal waves were reported on Friday along Tamil Nadu’s coast, but the weather office said they were “normal” as there was no significant weather phenomenon over the Bay of Bengal. As the waters were rough and the surging waves reached a height of seven feet, fishermen stayed away from the sea. In the tourist town of Kanniyakumari, boat services to the Vivekananda memorial rock and the 133-foot Tiruvallavur statue were suspended in the wake of high tidal waves. About 300 tourists stranded at both sites were safely brought ashore. Officials at the Met office said that the waves were caused by an increase in wind speed.
WASHINGTON – the captain of a whale-watching boat has seen rogue waves in his long tour-boat career, but none like the set that slammed into his boat on Thursday. Three surprise waves hit the vessel in a fog bank. The waves left four passengers slightly injured and a window broken over the bow.
CHINA – At least 11 people were missing after a tidal current in southeastern China swept more than 30 people out to sea. Twenty-two people were rescued after the tide rushed up the mouth of the Qiantang River on the outskirts of Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang province. The victims had either been swimming in the river or walking along a levee when the tide hit. Rescue efforts had continued into the night. The Qiantang’s trumpet-shaped mouth makes dangerously large tides as water rushes up the mouth of the river. Tourists often travel to witness the tides, and accidents are not uncommon. The deadliest accident there occurred in 1993, when a tide swept 86 people away, killing 19 and leaving 40 missing.
SOUTH AFRICA – Relentless waves battering coastal resort – Earlier this week, two swimming pools on the front lawn collapsed into the sea. They have dismantled wooden decks, pulled up trampolines and other holiday amenities, but now the sea has reached the resort’s front doors. Two nights ago the waves knocked down the front wall of the bar and diningroom area and undermined the foundations of a newly refurbished block of 16 chalets. “What can I say? We are in the middle of a nightmare, and the sea just has no mercy.” About two months ago, they had begun to notice that the 70m-wide strip of beach in front of the resort was getting thinner. “The March 19 storm stripped away the sandbank and now there is nothing to stop the waves. During the spring high tide about two weeks ago the waves really started to wreak havoc. The beach just got narrower and narrower and the sea started to whack us fast and furious.” Contractors and staff had been working until 9pm during the past few nights to pile sandbags in front of the resort.
SCOTLAND – a man has been killed after being swept out to sea while fishing on rocks off the coast of Scotland on Monday. He had been fishing at Kilmaluag Bay near Staffin when he was swept off the rocks by a freak wave.
GEORGIA – At St. Simons Island the water is taking away sand as it washes against the shore. Erosion has slowly eaten away at the beach near the Myrtle Street access point. “There’s not much of it left. Our beach time gets shorter and shorter every day (with encroaching tides).” While the beach has gotten smaller, the sandbar located slightly off shore near the King and Prince has increased in size thanks to eroded sand. “The sandbar is getting bigger, but if we get some bad weather like a hurricane, it would disappear pretty fast.” “The beach is smaller now, but hopefully the sand will flow back. A year ago I could sit out on the beach (near the Myrtle Street entrance) at high tide, but now I have to stay behind the rocks (that provide a buffer between the beach and properties behind them).”
AUSTRALIA – Seas swamping Australian islands – Roads have been swallowed whole, buildings washed out, graveyards swamped and houses flooded in six of the most vulnerable low-lying island communities. Authorities have ordered evacuation and relocation plans for more than 2000 people who face losing their land and livelihood from the invading sea. “These islands are sinking.” Scientists predict warmer sea temperatures (thermal expansion) and the melting of the ice caps will contribute to a sea-level rise of between 9cm and 88cm in the next 50 years. Some parts of the most vulnerable islands – Masig (Yorke), Poruma (Coconut), Warraber, Yam, Saibai and Boigu – are today less than 1m above sea level. “It is a big change, and it seems to be getting worse in the past two years or so.” There is the possibility of more frequent extreme events, like storm surge and high tides, causing the water to come up higher on to the land.
INDIA – Waves crashing against the shore is nothing new for the inhabitants of two of Orissa’s seaside tourist resorts – Puri and Gopalpur. But what they have been witnessing for the last few months has come as a shock. “The sea has been behaving in an UNNATURAL manner with high waves lashing against the coast and damaging structures. It seems the sea is inching inside.” While the sea waves have washed away nearly 500 metres of a newly-constructed road on the outskirts of Puri, several walls of hotels and a lighthouse at Gopalpur, down south in Ganjam district, have collapsed under the pounding of the sea. “I have been observing this phenomenon since August last year, but no action has been initiated about it.” There have been reports about the Bay of Bengal eroding the coast in the Satbhaya area of Kendrapara district and swallowing up at least five of the seven coastal villages in a cluster over the last few years. However, this was something new in towns like Puri and Gopalpur where the administration is monitoring the situation with concern. A study conducted recently said that 23% of India’s shoreline was getting eroded with four states – Maharashtra, Orissa, Karnataka and Kerala – being the worst affected. In Orissa, over 100 km out of the state’s 480-km coastline was facing erosion while the problem was more acute in Kerala. It also said that the growth of long sand pits at the Chilika Lagoon on the coast indicated littoral movement and subsequent silt deposition. Within the last fortnight, the sea has devoured a large portion of the road in Puri linking Baliapanda with Sipasarubali – where a tourist resort is proposed to be developed – causing panic among the inhabitants. The road had been constructed recently, even as new buildings, apartment blocks and hotels were coming up in the areas as the resort town was expanding. Six new buildings are now facing direct threat from the sea. Grave concern was expressed about the situation in Penthakata area of the town where a population of about 20,000 fishermen are living virtually on the edge of the sea.
INDONESIA will be susceptible to raging giant waves, ranging form 2.5 meters to 5 meters high, until July 28. Giant waves have been hitting certain parts of the country since last Saturday (7/21) and they are predicted to continue raging until this Saturday. The giant waves hit the waters west of Aceh, in the Indian Ocean west of Bengkulu and Lampung, in the Indian Ocean south of Java island, in the Java Sea, southern parts of Karimata strait, Masalembo waters, Southeast Sulawesi waters, South Sulawesi waters, the Indian Ocean south of Bali and Nusa Tenggara. The giant waves also hit the Bali Sea, Flores Sea, Sawu Sea, Rote strait, Fak Fak strait, Arafura and Merauke Seas. The wind was blowing from the east to southeast at a speed of 28-40 km per hour and the giant waves are a real threat to all kinds of ships. The giant waves may still hit several parts of Indonesia and in the Indian Ocean south of Java Island.
SOUTH AFRICA – The “No entry” sign has gone up at Amanzimtoti’s premier tourist attraction; the Main Beach, where the sea has reclaimed 50m of the beach and the breaking waves have caused extensive damage to the promenade’s retaining walls. And, as a delegation of city officials and engineers were inspecting the devastation at the beach on Friday, where tons of sand have also been displaced, the verandah at the lifeguard tower – already damaged by the pounding waves – gave way, prompting immediate precautionary measures to be taken to secure the building. Rocks were quickly brought in to halt further damage and wire netting and the “no entry” sign replaced the red tape already strung across the promenade to prevent the public going down on to what is left of the popular beach. About R4-million of damage was caused to both the Inyoni Rocks and Winklespruit swimming pools during March’s FREAK WAVE wave action, which caused billions of rands of damage at various beaches along the coastline. Both pools have yet to be repaired. A 200m-long stretch of Toti’s Main Beach had been lost and the waves, particularly the high tides of recent weeks which peaked last Monday, damaged the promenade’s retaining walls, the showers and lifeguard tower. After the verandah collapsed, “immediate action had to be taken to save what was still there”. Experts generally agreed that the latest problem was a ripple effect of the UNUSUALLY large tides in March. “What has happened is that the protective banks have moved out to sea. And where the big waves normally broke about 100m out at sea, they are now breaking on the shore.” This has affected the shoreline at different beaches. On the South Coast, 50m of a private beach at the Happy Wanderers Holiday Resort in Kelso has also been lost to the sea. The wild waves broke the resort’s large beachfront swimming pool and have “whacked” the windows of the pub, forcing the owners to close the pub and adjoining restaurant. An expert on sea currents has advised the owners on where to put sandbags and how high they must be. The owners said that while the resort had minimal damage in March, the waves had got worse over the past six weeks. They had even lost as much as 4.5m of coast in a day and a half. They fear that if things get worse, “the railway line near us will go”.
MICHIGAN – The search for a child who was swimming in Lake Michigan ended Friday. The boy disappeared in the water off Douglas Beach. The father tells investigators that he and his three sons were swimming in Lake Michigan when a large wave hit them. Two of the boys resurfaced and one did not. The United States Coast Guard says, at times, waves were up to 8 feet high as they searched for the boy. Closer to shore, conditions weren’t much better. Rescue divers had to fight high waves, strong winds, and rip currents. The US Coast Guard says people underestimate the power of Lake Michigan. When the waves get big, it’s best to stay out. The coast guard says the water got so rough that night that several boats had to turn around and head back in. The Lake Express ferry in Muskegon also canceled it’s evening run, stranding passengers in Milwaukee.
INDIA – Rapid sea invasion along the Gujarat coast is forcing families of fishermen to abandon the sea and their homes. Danti in Valsad district of Gujarat is being invaded. More than half the residents of this sleepy fishing village have fled already. The sea they revere has swallowed up the village and is making them beat a retreat every year. Only the poorest remain on the edge of the village, with just a sea wall for protection. On one side of the wall are lashing waves. On the other are ramshackle, makeshift huts. No one here has permanent brick homes. They have to rebuild every year after the waters rush in over the wall. “We have moved back three kilometres in the last 20 years. Our original village was out there. You can’t even see it now. Three village wells have been submerged. We’ve relocated the school thrice.” Sandwiched as they are between the sea and the saltpans, there is not much further they can retreat. During low tide, the beach is a hive of activity. Families are hard at work, trying to salvage bricks from the ruins of their old homes. “When the water comes in every monsoon, it’s knee-high. We have to put our kids on the roof in the pouring rain. We don’t have the money to buy land and move out, so we remain here.” “The fish have gone further into the sea because of [industrial] pollution. And the water has come further in; so we have suffered. We can’t go very far in our tiny boats. We used to get 400 to 600 fish in one night. Now we barely get a hundred.” The villagers along the coast are not sure why the sea is advancing at such a voracious pace. Some fishermen guessed it might be “because there are more storms in the sea”. One of the reasons could be a rise in sea level owing to global warming. The contours of Gujarat’s coast are changing. “Preliminary observations reveal that the seawater has shifted in by 10-15 metres in 10 years, and at places it has moved around 80 metres horizontally.” Several places along India’s 7,500 km-long coastline are experiencing similar erosion. In the Sunderbans, two islands have already vanished from the map, displacing 7,000 people. Twelve more islands are likely to go under owing to an annual 3.14 mm sea level rise, which will make 70,000 people refugees. Five villages in Orissa’s Bhitarkanika National Park, famous for the mass nesting of Olive Ridley turtles, have been submerged, and 18 others are likely to go under. (photos)
INDONESIA – The Transportation Minister warned Thursday that huge waves, in excess of six meters, would continue until August. The Meteorology and Geophysics Agency attributed the huge waves to tropical cyclone Man Yi, which is expected to affect several regions in the country. Waves are predicted to crash onto eastern shores near the Seram, Aru and Arafuru seas, the Fak Fak and Merauke coasts and most of Maluku. In the waters off South Sulawesi, rescuers were still searching for 25 ship passengers missing since their boat capsized on Wednesday night, while in Maluku more teams have joined the search for 23 passengers three days after their boat sank in rough water. So far, 35 survivors have been plucked from the sea.
IRELAND – A leading American rock climber is feared dead after falling into the sea while climbing on the south west coast of Ireland. He plunged into the sea while climbing with friends north of Valentia Island in Co Kerry on Friday evening. A team of divers was called in to search the sea bed for him after reports he had been hit by a FREAK WAVE and swept out to sea. He has been one of the leading exponents of free solo climbing – shunning the use of ropes or other safety equipment when climbing up sheer rock faces or buildings to great heights. Despite searches by the local lifeboat, Shannon search and rescue helicopter, coastguards, cliff rescue teams and local people, there has been no sighting of him. The Valentia Coastguard said the scene of the fall was a very unusual place for rock-climbing.
INDONESIA – A number of survivors of the sunken passenger ship KM Wahai Star were still floating in the sea as rescue efforts were hampered by huge waves on Thursday. “We were sad to know that they were still floating in the sea. We tried to approach them but could not make it as our rescue tanker was hit by the high waves.” The waves reached 4-meters high. The tanker has so far evacuated 29 people including two dead bodies from the sea. The passenger boat was in its regular voyage from Buru island to Ambon, the capital city of Maluku, at around midnight on Wednesday, when it had an engine breakdown. About 60 people, including 17 crew members, were recorded on board the ill-fated ship. However, Ambon crisis center said that more than 100 people were reportedly missing by their families and relatives. It is a common practice here that passengers often take public transportation without buying tickets, therefore their names do not exist in the passenger list.
PHILIPPINES – Rescue teams and the Coast Guard office in Surigao del Sur are readying transport of passengers of a stranded vessel caught by huge waves off the Surigao strait at 8 a.m. Wednesday. According to radio reports, the engines of the vessel MV Shuttle Ferry Queen malfunctioned after huge waves clogged its mechanisms, causing it to stop right in the middle of the strait. The vessel had just come from Leyte and was headed to Lipanta, Surigao del Sur when they were caught by the huge waves caused by the tropical storm “Bebeng” [Man-yi]. This came even as a pumpboat carrying nine passengers sank after hitting a piece of wood also at the Surigao strait sometime Wednesday afternoon. The Coast Guard said eight of the nine passengers were rescued while one passenger went missing.
BRITAIN – A teenager washed out to sea by strong tides died Sunday night, July 8th, after a 90-minute rescue operation. The 15-year-old boy was taking part in a Tamil Festival when he was swept away in notoriously dangerous waters. An RAF Sea King helicopter managed to find the youngster and winch him to safety still alive at Wells harbour, north Norfolk. But by then he had been in the water for too long and was suffering from severe hypothermia. He died several hours later in hospital. An 11-year-old boy washed out with him was rescued unhurt. The drama unfolded at 4:30pm following reports that two youngsters had been caught up in the deadly fast-running tides. The boy of 11 was quickly pulled to safety by swimmers on the beach. But the older boy was carried out by the strong currents that can move faster than walking pace. Eleven years ago a six-year-old and her four-year-old brother were drowned when they were trapped by the tide at nearby Hunstanton. Coastguards constantly warn trippers about fast-running tides in the area which can quickly drag people out to sea.
INDIA – Violent tidal waves have been battering the coastlines of Kanyakumari district in the southern tip of India lately, with 4 people dead and more than 50 fishing boats destroyed. Along the coast the gushing sea waves continued to pound about 24 villages. The villagers are living in fear of the the rising waves that have been creeping into the beach, destroying houses, property, unearthing coconut trees and gobbling nearby land. “We live in fear every day because the waves continue to push itself inland and we don’t know why this is happening.” Fishermen in the village have not gone fishing for months because of the rough seas. “We don’t know how to explain this (regular rising tidal waves).” 69 out of 360 houses have been completely destroyed recently. During the peak Indian southwest monsoon, which falls between June and July, the tides lap deeper inland, causing more danger to the unprotected villagers. The rising sea waves have become a regular phenomenon, more frequent since the Indonesian tsunami in 2004. That tsunami killed almost 800 people in this part of the country. “I suspect after the tsunami, there are some changes at the sea bottom.” Panic-stricken villagers are baffled about the UNUSUAL rising tidal waves, while marine scientists have yet to establish the reason for this RARE phenomenon in this coastal area. It is worse this year compared to last year.
Australian researchers have studied and documented the effect of the RARE “sundried tide”, a force of nature that can silently wipe out coral reefs. Extreme low tides on clear sunny days can lead to widespread damage of coastal coral colonies. “Really low tides, where the local sea level gets to its extreme low for the year, can occur at different times of the day. In years where this occurs during the middle of the day when the sunlight is at its most intense and the reefs are almost fully exposed, there is a real risk of severe coral stress and death in the shallow reef zone.” Just like cyclones and other natural disasters, these severe ‘sun-dry tides’ rarely occur since they rely on the alignment of numerous natural extremes. However, when these factors all align, by a combination of sun, moon and chance weather, an extreme event occurs which could leave coral colonies bleached and devastated. One such event occurred in September 2005 and was the worst in the eight-year record. “These events are highly predictable. We can go into the weather reports, align them with tidal charts and predict the times of greatest risk. The high-risk time of year is July–October, when corals are building up resources for spawning and preparing for summer stressors such as thermal bleaching.”
INDIA – Battering waves bit off a large portion of the beach road at Sanghumugham on Wednesday after which panic-stricken local people set up road-blocks demanding prompt government action. Over the past few days, the waves had swallowed the Sanghumugham beach and half of the west lane of the road, forcing the authorities to fence off the side adjacent to the sea. “This is the first time in years that the sea has pushed its way in so much.” The large fishing craft, usually rested on the beach, have been dragged well inland, for fear of the sea lapping them up. Some have been dragged further inland, even up to the compound of a nearby Church. A huge concrete pipe, part of a sewerage until Wednesday morning, lies half in the waves. The beach is completely gone, and the sea has now come up to the road. Only a few feet on the other side, are houses and shops. Further south, beyond the road, the situation is worse. “There, houses are flush against the sea. We’ve moved several families to the relief camps. One two-storeyed house developed a large crack today.” But some families have simply refused to move, on the vague hope that the sea would not come further. “They keep vigil throughout the night.”
FLORIDA – Daytona Beach’s Fourth of July celebration was literally washed out. Huge waves crashed over the barge that launches the fireworks and drenched the entire display, just minutes before the show was supposed to start. Rain and strong winds also forced event organizers in Flagler Beach to cancel most of the city’s Fabulous Fourth event.
MEXICO – a U.S. teenager on a mission trip in Mexico has gone missing after a day at the beach. He was in Zihuantenejo with other members of Lexington Presbyterian Church, including his father, helping to build homes. He was apparently knocked unconscious by a series of waves. The other members of the team weren’t able to get to him before the waters swept him away because it was so rough.
INDIA – On Friday, the 29th, huge waves crashed against the coast, submerging at least two seaside villages and affecting around 200 families. Under the impact of the deep depression formed over northwest Bay of Bengal, huge sea waves inundated two villages under Satbhaya panchayat of Kendrapara district. Ten to 12 feet high waves, churned up by strong winds, marooned Kanhupur and Satbhaya villages damaging several houses including a primary school building. The sea eroded several feet of land towards the village, submerging the 1200-year-old Panchubarahi temple and two bore wells in the locality. The majority of the people had taken shelter on a large sand dune and the nearby panchayat building while some had shifted to a neighbouring village. The area remained cut-off because of the inundation. Though there were a cluster of seven villages in the panchayat, five of them had been decimated by the sea over the last few decades. Damages were also reported from the port township of Paradip as scores of houses had been badly affected. Strong wind flattened some of the dwellings while scores of trees had been uprooted.
IRELAND – A 24-year-old man has died in a fishing accident off the coast of Co Clare. He was part of a group of four men that went fishing in the Blue Pool area of Doonbeg. It is thought that a wave swept the man off the rocks. The coastguard has said weather conditions in the area at the time were poor and the area is notorious for FREAK WAVES.
AUSTRALIA – Efforts were underway to evacuate hundreds of residents as a king tide threatens to further swamp a flooded town on Victoria’s southeast coast. “With the expected high tide and the volume of flood waters running down into the Gippsland Lakes area, we believe it’s prudent for them to leave now while they are able to in safety, rather than in the middle of the night when it will be much more dangerous and difficult.” While most rivers swollen in recent rains had peaked and begun to recede, the waters now draining into the Gippsland Lakes region would be met by the expected high tide tonight. “In effect, the high tide is going to hold these waters in. They will have no chance to be released into the ocean and this could seriously affect a number of properties over a substantial area and potentially exacerbate the flooding situation.”
MALAYSIA – On Tuesday, UNUSUALLY strong winds wreaked havoc in Penang and parts of Kedah, toppling trees, blowing off roofs, capsizing boats and forcing four flights to be diverted from the international airport in Bayan Lepas. The winds peaked at Bayan Lepas at 43 knots per hour while it reached 32 knots per hour in Alor Star. The normal wind speed at these places is between five and 20 knots per hour. Giant waves of up to 2m high hit the sea wall at the Esplanade in George Town before pounding onto cars parked along the road. Some tiles and a metal railing along the sea wall were dislodged by the might of the waves. A 10m stretch of the concrete path near the Astaka Medan Renong food court there was broken by the pounding waves. At Pantai Bersih in Butterworth, fishermen said 3m-high waves caused more destruction than the 2004 tsunami, with 14 boats damaged compared to one during the tsunami. At least four of the five restaurants along the beach were damaged by the waves. In Kedah, five fishermen from a boat that capsized 2km off Tanjung Dawai were rescued, while two more fishermen had to be rescued from a capsized fishing boat off Batu Ferringhi on Penang island. (photos)
MALDIVES – Last week was the second time in six weeks the Maldives has experienced extensive flooding. Sea wall defences, constructed for millions of dollars, have been destroyed on islands in both cases. And on Wednesday, the 20th, the entire population of seventy three islanders on Hathifushi in Haa Daal had to be evacuated. High seas and rains flooded over thirty islands in the north of the Maldives in three days, the affected atolls have reported no further flooding since Thursday. Every inhabited island in Haa Aliff was flooded at some point last week. Raa is the most recently effected atoll with eight islands flooded on Thursday by rainwater alone, without waves breaking onto the islands.
MALAYSIA – As the people of Penang cleaned up after a freak storm on Tuesday, residents at this fishing village felt the wrath of tidal waves across a one-kilometre stretch of coastline yesterday. The strong winds began at 10pm and broke into a storm at midnight. The villagers, who earn their living as traditional fishermen, had barely recovered their losses after the last floods and now had to put up with another disaster. One of the victims had depleted her savings rebuilding her kitchen after it was washed away in floods in December last year. Since wood is expensive, she made do with recycled wooden planks, taking three months to reconstruct the cubicle-sized kitchen and replace the gas stove, crockery and utensils. In the blink of an eye, her kitchen was gone once again. She was one of 30 families of Kampung Orang Asli Pontian Besar, who escaped by the skin of their teeth when the waves pummelled their homes. Her house was on stilts facing the Straits of Malacca. A decade ago their houses were not built on stilts and the village was bordered by mangrove swamps. In the past eight years, erosion has caused the entire swamp to disappear and only late last year the Drainage and Irrigation Department built a barrier to curb the erosion. “Without the swamp, our houses are directly facing the sea and there is nothing to protect us.” The tidal wave struck during low-tide, which was a STRANGE PHENOMENON. “It was unexpected.”
INDONESIA – The Geophysics and Meteorology warned Tuesday that a high tidal wave would hit Arafuru waters, eastern Indonesia, on Thursday and Friday. “The tidal wave could reach three to four meters high.” Different pressure between northern Australia and eastern Indonesia was likely to cause the high tidal wave in Arafuru waters.
SOUTH AFRICA – The Red Bull Big Wave Africa 2007 surfing contest was postponed on Monday, the 18th. Some waves were solid 20 to 25-foot sets, but they were far from ideal for running the event. “It was really difficult out there. It was definitely the right decision not to go with the event. The waves were big, but WEIRD and coming from all directions.” Tuesday morning (19 June) dawned with a marked drop in swell, to almost half the size of Monday, and the competition was called off again, in order to wait for the next storm.
INDONESIA – (last year) 7.8 quake and tsunami on July 17, 2006 – Though categorized as magnitude 7.8, the earthquake could scarcely be felt by beachgoers that afternoon. A low tide and wind-driven waves disguised the signs of receding water, so when the tsunami struck, it caught even lifeguards by surprise. That contributed to the death toll of more than 600 persons in Java, Indonesia. “The general assumption was that if you were near the coast where the earthquake took place, you would feel it and be able to run to higher ground. This event caught people by surprise and showed that it’s not always that simple.” The earthquake was slow rupturing, so it didn’t produce strong ground shaking on Java that might have alerted people on the beach. No local warning was issued for the tsunami waves, which arrived only tens of minutes after the earthquake. Fortunately, the event took place on a Monday. Had the massive waves hit the day before, which was a major national holiday, the popular beach would have been much more crowded – and the toll higher. “Warning systems typically don’t work very well for locations near earthquakes, where there are only tens of minutes between the earthquake and the tsunami’s arrival.” In the July 2006 Java tsunami, lifeguards did not notice the withdrawal of ocean water from the beaches because the water was receding anyway because of a normal low tide – and because of large wind-produced waves. Beyond the quiet nature of the catastrophe, scientists have discovered evidence of a 21-meter (65-foot) wave that hit a portion of the coastline near the island of Nusa Kambangan, indicating a second event that may have added to the severity of the disaster. Elsewhere along the 300 kilometers of coastline studied, the waves ranged from 5 to 7 meters (16 to 24 feet). “The runup was unusually high along one portion of the coast, too much for a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. The only explanation we could think of is that a submarine mass movement triggered by the earthquake could have added to the effect of the earthquake, given the essentially straight coastline with little room for large-scale tsunami focusing.”
Global warming is speeding up ocean waves, a new study by Canadian researchers has found. Geophysicists predict that as the ocean surface warms, these so-called planetary waves should speed up. To test this theory, they modelled the changes to ocean wave patterns over the 20th and 21st centuries. They found that gigantic ocean waves, spanning hundreds of kilometres from crest to crest, had speeded as a result of global warming. ‘We were really surprised at how quickly the ocean responded to temperature change.’ The model further showed that by the end of the 21st century, the waves would be a further 20 to 40 per cent faster compared with pre-industrial speeds. ‘We knew we’d see an effect, but we didn’t think it would be significant for at least another two centuries.’ The faster planetary waves will have an effect on global weather.
BAHRAIN – Tidal waves caused by the Gonu cyclone that wrecked havoc in Oman earlier this week hit several fishing villages in southern and eastern Bahrain late Friday night. Rising sea water forced fishing vessels onto the streets of Jaw and Asker in southern Bahrain and covered a large portion of the sea-front area of Maamer village in eastern Bahrain, threatening homes. Police and firefighters set-up check-points on roads leading into and out of Jaw and Asker to divert motorists after seawater reached the main road. There were no reports of injuries and damages could not be assessed immediately. The country’s meteorology office had earlier predicted calm weather and tidal waves of one to two feet and said that the rise in sea levels should not be a concern and was likely to continue until Sunday. The statement did not link the tidal waves to Gonu cyclone and said that none of the neighbouring countries’ meteorological offices reported unusual changes in weather over the Gulf. Many roads were reopened four hours later as the water began to recede and clean-up crews began work to remove debris.
NORTH KOREA – On March 7th a tidal wave hit Soehan Bay on the West Sea, which is bounded by Cholsan, Yongcheon and Sunchon in North Pyongan, leaving two thousand flood casualties and around one hundred dead. Many were gathering sea shells, according to several sources in North Korea who said the news was released late to cover up the damage. North Korean authorities have not informed the outside world of the tidal wave. However, the South Korean government reportedly has been apprised. Flooded regions include Dosan-ri and Bosan-ri in Yongchoen, Okok-ri in Cholsan, Shinmee Island in Sunchon, with the worst suffering in Dosan-ri in Yongchoen. The damage done by the giant wave came in a flash and was worsened by the lack of weather forecasting and early warning systems.
AUSTRALIA – Huge seas beached a 40,000 tonne coal ship off the New South Wales coast today, sparking a major rescue operation in which 22 crew members airlifted off the stricken vessel in gale force winds. Two other bulk carriers issued distress calls as 10m waves dragged them towards the coast. Officials said their anchors were holding, although one was only 1km from shore. The Pasha Bulker had been anchored off the coal port of Newcastle awaiting entry when waves and gales swept it onto a reef and Nobbys Beach. “It’s getting absolutely belted at the moment, it’s an amazing sight, the spray coming right over the top of this huge tanker.” Plans for tugs to pull the ship out to sea were abandoned because of the rough seas. Environmentalists said they feared that if the ship broke up it would spill its fuel, causing a marine disaster. The bulk carrier Sea Confidence was dragged to within about 1km of Stockton Beach, north of Newcastle. “Now they’ve put their engines in full thrust and are trying to go away from the coastline and the effect of that is that it’s pretty much staying in the same place.” The bulk carrier Bitis also issued a call for help as it was dragged towards another beach near Newcastle. Both ships had managed to secure their anchors. Officials were concerned about another ship, the Coral Emerald, being forced toward shore. “The Coral Emerald is about three nautical miles from the shore.” Ships along the coastline were trying to sail further east to avoid beachings. The bad weather, whipped up by an intense low pressure system off the coast, is expected to worsen. “The forecast is for the weather to deteriorate with seas now at 8-10m and winds of around 40 knots.” Newcastle is one of Australia’s largest coal export terminals but delays in loading have resulted in ships queueing some 2-3km offshore. Newcastle Port authorities said there were 58 ships anchored offshore.
SYDNEY HARBOR – Ferry and JetCat services have been suspended due to swells up to five metres high in Sydney Harbour. Severe weather is battering the NSW coast and has produced extreme sea conditions across the mouth of the harbour where the vessels travel between Manly wharf and Circular Quay. A Sydney Ferries spokesman said the high swell would make it unsafe to negotiate the route and dangerous to berth at Manly wharf. Buses have replaced ferry services between the two destinations until harbour conditions improve.
PAKISTAN – coastal areas in Thatta went into a rain spell, and the fishermen have anchored their boats on the shores due to high tides in the sea. According to the details, Jati, Keti Bandar, Kharo Chan, Shah Bandar, Karo Ghungro, Zero Point and other areas were witnessing a rain spell that has let loose a torrential situation in the high seas, leaving the fishermen localities near the seaside shivering in fear and panic.
MALDIVES – high tidal swells and flooding that affected nearly 50% of all the populated islands two weeks ago, also affected the islands on Saturday and Sunday, June 2 & 3. They are yet another harrowing reminder that the Maldives remain highly vulnerable to the elements and to the effects of climate change. Without timely international action, the dangers for the Maldives could very well be doubled. The country is still recovering from the devastating effects of the 2004 tsunami, and the current high swells and flooding have placed additional burdens on the enormous task of post-tsunami recovery and reconstruction.
Huge waves that struck Reunion Island and coastlines across Indonesia earlier this month all originated from the same storm that occurred south of Cape Town, South Africa, and were tracked across the entire Indian Ocean for some 10,000 kilometres over a nine-day period by satellite. Waves reaching up to 11 metres devastated France’s Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean when it slammed into the southern port of Saint Pierre on 12 May. Six days later waves created from the same storm measuring as high as seven metres began crashing into Indonesia coastlines from Sumatra to Bali, killing at least one person and causing some 1200 people to flee their homes. “The extreme swell systems originated from the same storm, which moved rapidly and had two main strong wind periods…the resulting waves were organised into two main swell systems that followed each other across the entire Indian Ocean, hitting Reunion Island, Mauritius, Australia and Indonesia.” No official warning about the huge waves that hit Indonesia were issued. Although the waves that hit Reunion Island were forecasted, their intensity was predicted to be 20 to 30% below measurements. A global swell-tracking project is in the works. Once in place, this system will be the equivalent of deploying a global network of virtual buoys that are able to detect and track large swell systems carrying large energy from all available remote sensing measurements of waves. Each virtual buoy will have the capacity to detect and measure the wavelength and the direction of propagation as well as the height of the swell systems crossing the oceans, complementing the sea forecast models used by weather centres and allowing alarms to be raised a few hours before these devastating swells hit coasts.
CORSICA – a tourist was killed by a GIANT WAVE as FREAK WEATHER hit the French Mediterranean island of Corsica. Rescuers found the body of a 19-year-old Swiss tourist who was carried away by a powerful wave while walking on a storm-lashed beach in the north of the island on Monday. Two of the young man’s companions were also swept away but managed to fight their way back to shore, despite 120-kilometre (70-mile) winds and three-metre (10-foot) waves. Violent winds, freezing fog and rain were expected to continue lashing the normally-sunny island until at least today. Two hikers froze to death – one victim, a Frenchman in his 30s found dead early Tuesday, had set off alone to find help after his hiking group was caught in freezing fog, wind and rain. His wife and two other woman companions, who managed to reach a shelter for the night, were escorted down the mountainside towards the northern town of Vivario unharmed but in a state of shock. In the same region, a Frenchwoman froze to death after being caught in the storm on a hiking trail. Injured and suffering from hypothermia, her husband managed to reach a nearby village for help but his wife was dead by the time rescuers arrived.
INDONESIA – rescue officials are searching for 11 people missing after a fishing boat was engulfed by 6m (19.59 foot) waves off the north coast of Java islands late last week. Two survivors had been found after the boat was swamped by waves on Thursday, 40km from the town. The boat had been heading to Indonesia’s Kalimantan province on Borneo island.
INDONESIA – On ocean surface waves – “It seems that at least once a year, Indonesian newspapers carry reports of mysterious waves striking coastal towns and beaches… There really is no mystery to these waves. We surfers in Indonesia knew days ahead of time that on May 18, huge ocean swells, with face heights of 20 feet or even higher, would be hitting the coasts exposed to the Indian Ocean. How did we know this? First of all, the concept that ocean surface waves are caused by lunar influences is really a myth. Tides do have an effect by pushing swells around to a minor extent, and high spring tides can carry swell surges onto beaches and further inland, but ocean surface swells are generally caused by the winds of cyclonic low pressure systems. The deeper the low, the stronger the wind, and the bigger the swell it generates. Furthermore, the longer the low lasts and the longer the wind blows, and the longer the distance of ocean surface it blows across, will also have an effect on swell size. The swell that hit on May 18 was created by a sustained, massive low pressure system in the lower Indian Ocean. An interested person, such as a surfer, could see and track this system on various Internet sites such…as http://www.lajollasurf.org/images/gblind00.gif that show in color code the actual wave heights in the Indian Ocean. From this, one can easily extrapolate the size and timing of swells that will propagate across the Indian Ocean, hitting the southern coasts of exposed islands… Even as long as week before May 18, surfers across Indonesia were in a state of excitement, while fishermen and tourists remained ignorant until the swell actually hit, coinciding with a high spring tide, creating panic and fears of a deadly tsunami. The Indonesian bureau of meteorology had ample time to issue high surf alerts to coastal areas.”
INDONESIA – The abnormal rise in sea-level during high-tides in the last three days has re-opened the tsunami scars of thousands on the Islands of Andaman and Nicobar. However, officials have failed to provide any concrete data regarding this. This UNUSUAL PHENOMENON has left huge heaps of sand deposited in front of houses and hotels nearby, causing problems for the people. “The coastal road is overloaded with sea sand of nearly one meter height.” After getting similar reports from Phuket and Bangkok, people in tsunami hit Car Nicobar Islands feared this as an indication of another disaster, but local administration dismissed it, saying everything was normal. However, the Port Management Board Harbour Master said that there might be three main reasons – monsoon, change in the beach profile after the tsunami and the timing of tides coinciding with office timings. “This is normal after heavy monsoon as water from hilly areas mix up with seawater which raises the sea level.” Normally reading of high-tides in these Islands is 1.8 to 1.9 meters but during monsoon and full moon nights, the reading goes up to 2.4 meters. In this case monsoon and full-moon came together. The waves smashed into the premises of a few restaurants along coastal areas on May 19 and 20, overturning tables and chairs. The National Institute of Ocean Technology had installed nearly 15 tide gauges across the country to measure tidal variations, but officials failed to provide any reading behind this ABNORMAL rise of tide level. “We have readings of rise in the wave height of sea but not of tides. Due to Southwest monsoon, the wave heights are higher and the beach profile of Andaman has already changed which can be the reason behind this.” Apart from the changes in the beach profile, many believe that Sea Walls had prevented seawater entry in these places, thereby forcing the sea to flood other adjacent areas. Massive Sea walls have been constructed in various places of South Andaman to reclaim land, inundated by seawater after the tsunami due to tilting of the land mass. The project, Post Seismic Relaxation in Andaman and Nicobar, had already recorded a tilt of four-and-a-half metres along the North-South belt of the 572 island conglomerate in the Indian Ocean and an East-West tilt of two-and-a-half metres, explaining why most of the 1700 hectares of paddy fields in Port Blair’s eastern coast were still submerged in water. People and fishermen have not ventured into the sea during the last few days, fearing another disastrous tsunami.
Mentawai Islands, off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia – Thursday, May 17 & Friday, May 18, has seen an amazing 20-25 feet plus swell hit the Mentawai Island chain. A number of surfers ventured out and scored some of the most epic barrels of their lives. “On Thursday, there was a set of at least 9 waves that were maxing 20 feet – but absolutely perfect…some of the most amazing waves I’ve ever seen. They were every bit of 25 feet. Just wish I had a camera! ” Not everyone was so lucky though. The local villagers of Katiet were swamped by the swell which combined with a seasonal Monsoonal King Tide and has left their village under 0.5 metres of water. “This is the first time we have had so much water in the village. Normally we get a little but spend our time watching the surfers in the big waves. This time, we were too busy to watch as we were bailing out the water. ” A resort owner was amazed at the size of the swell. “I’ve never seen anything like this first hand. The surf was massive.”
SPAIN – A quiet holiday in Alicante, Spain ended in tragedy for a British couple when they were swallowed up by a FREAK WAVE, sucked out to sea and one of them drowned. It was before lunchtime on Friday, May 18, when they were walking from the water after a swim in the sea at Cala Estaca beach when a freak wave sucked them under the water and pulled them both out to sea. The woman was able to free herself from the water, however, the 21-year-old male was unable to extricate himself and tragically drowned.
Tourist beaches in Southeast Asia reopened on Monday after giant waves triggered by intense winds thousands of kilometres away crashed ashore last week, reviving memories of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. The waves, which were 7 metres (23 feet) high in some areas late last week, struck large parts of Indonesia, the Maldives, Thailand and Western Australia. There was no official warning about the freakish waves that killed at least one person, damaged hundreds of homes and displaced thousands of people. Weather officials said the waves were the result of an accumulation of winds in one spot on the ocean, but were looking at why they were so intense. The phenomenon was likely caused by Kelvin waves, giant waves caused by a surge of irregular wind patterns in the Indian Ocean. It could have easily been predicted because such waves commonly occur around this time. “However, we didn’t expect the waves to be of this size, that’s why we need to analyse the other factors first before arriving at a conclusion.” The European Space Agency said the huge waves were generated by intense storm winds in the Southern Ocean on May 8. The waves originated south of Cape Town in South Africa and travelled northeast for nearly 4,000 km (2,500 miles) over three days before slamming into Reunion Island on May 12. Using satellites, French researchers tracked the huge swell as it travelled northeast, hitting first Reunion, Madagascar, the Maldives and finally Indonesia. Initial forecasts were for waves only a couple of metres in height, but due to the large time period between swells, around 19 seconds, the intensity of the waves was much greater. Australia’s big surf breaks around Margaret River in southwest Australia were pounded by waves up to 20 feet as the huge westerly swell hit the coast. Huge waves later hit Bali, washing away beachside restaurants and fishing boats. “This month there has been an ASTRONOMICALLY EXTREME PHENOMENON. The tidal waves were caused by a combination of several factors, including winds travelling at extreme speed in the Indian Ocean.” (damage photos)
ICELAND – A 75 year-old woman from Pennsylvania on her fifth trip to Iceland drowned Saturday at Reynisfjara beach, South Iceland, after a large wave crashed into the shore and pulled her out to sea. Her tour group stopped at the beach for its popular scenic view looking out over the rock formations and cliffs by the sea. It is a known danger to go too far down the beach because of the massive waves that can rise up without warning and pull people out to sea. When the group arrived at the beach at 3:00pm the sea seemed relatively calm, with little risk of fatal waves coming in on the tide.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA – On Saturday, tidal waves created by the eruption of Ritter Island smashed into Kabi and Kampalap villages on the eastern part of Siassi Island, flattening four houses and sending about 10,000 local villagers fleeing to the hills for safety.
MALDIVES – the government has appealed to the international community for aid to deal with the damage caused by floods from tidal swells which began on Tuesday. The UNPRECEDENTED sea swells caused extensive flooding, inflicting damage to homes, livelihoods and infrastructure in many parts of the country since the 15th of the month. Floods caused by storm surges had affected 55 of the 197 islands in the Maldives on Tuesday, some local reports say 80. A Director of the Ministry of Atolls Development has hit out at the central government’s reaction to the recent widespread flooding, saying it shows that lessons from the tsunami have not been learnt. “We should have learnt our lessons from the December 2004 tsunami and the disaster preparedness or mitigation plans, awareness creation and training should have taken place after the period following the tsunami. Instead, what happened recently was an ad-hoc reaction to an unprecedented event.” The “usual donors” will continue to be relied upon if changes are not made. “Disaster management functions should be decentralised to the local level instead of local authorities having to go through government red-tape and bureaucracy. Communities should be taught and mobilized to be self-reliant and to be resilient in such situations.” The government’s chief spokesperson had said Tuesday’s “simultaneous flooding of 55 islands was UNPRECEDENTED…there is no record of such an event apart from the tsunami.” The government had played down the gravity of the event however, and had even claimed, “media reports of tidal waves are exaggerations…these are clearly storm surges [which] regularly happen in the Maldives at this time of year.” But following renewed floods in Gaaf Dhaal atoll on Thursday afternoon, the situation worsened and the cabinet called for assistance and they admitted “the damage is much worse than we initially thought.” “This is the SECOND BIGGEST FLOOD DISASTER IN OUR HISTORY AFTER THE TSUNAMI. Unlike the tsunami, flood waters have destroyed a lot of agricultural land. Assistance will be needed for the restoration of livelihoods.” NEVER IN THE COUNTRY’S RECORDED HISTORY HAD SO MANY ISLANDS FACED FLOODING SIMULTANEOUSLY. (photo)
The people of Fares Mathoda, Gaaf Dhaal atoll, reportedly abandoned the island, which was submerged, and took to boats at around 12:30 Tuesday night, on May 15th. The Maldives Meteorological Office warned all islands to be braced for further UNUSUAL tides through Wednesday and possibly Thursday. The Met Office could not explain why the sudden swell had taken place but had said it is definitely not the result of a tsunami. The worst affected islands appear to be those exposed to open sea, the “fringe islands.” A swell of between one and two feet first washed through about ten islands at around 9.30am Tuesday morning, causing much flooding, and continued to affect further islands. Many homes have been flooded by the swell, and many families have been left without electricity. (photo)
A Meteorological Office forecaster says storm surges are not responsible for the widespread flooding in the Maldives. “We don’t do oceanography here, but we don’t think it can be storm surges. Storm surges don’t last three or four days. They normally just last one day. This is not a normal swell. The sea is not rough. The waves are also not constant. A huge wave comes all of a sudden. The truth of all this should be told.” “All the houses near the sea have been damaged. Walls have collapsed, furniture has been washed away and families have lost all their belongings.”
INDONESIA – After destroying hundreds of houses across the coastal lines of Java, Bali and western Sumatra, tidal waves struck the coasts of eastern Indonesian islands of Lombok and Flores, forcing more than 1,000 people to flee their homes, local media reports said Sunday. While residents across the southern coast of Java and Bali, and the western coast of Sumatra, were cleaning out debris from their homes which were damaged by the tidal waves two days earlier, the huge waves heavily damaged or destroyed more than 150 homes along coastlines on Lombok and Flores islands. Weather officials say the waves were a result of the accumulation of winds in one spot and are not linked with annual weather patterns. Forecasters warned that high waves may reoccur in the coming days. Tidal waves have pounded coastlines in 11 provinces in Indonesia, from Aceh, on the northern end of Sumatra to the southern tourist resort island of Bali since Thursday, with the southern coast of Java the worst hit. On the western coast of Aceh, at least 4,00 residents had to abandon their homes after sea-water flooding Thursday.
INDONESIA – Coastlines across Indonesia have been inundated by high waves, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of people. An accummulation of strong winds in the Indian Ocean has been blamed for the UNUSUAL tidal surge causing havoc along Indonesia’s coastline. Tidal surges up to seven metres high have damaged hundreds of homes in several provinces, and sent tourists fleeing from the beaches of Bali, also destroying hundreds of fishing boats. The 11 provinces that suffered from high waves included Aceh, North Sumatra, West Sumatra, Bengkulu and Lampung provinces on Sumatra island. High waves also struck major coastlines of Java and Bali islands. No casualties have been recorded so far by the UNUSUAL waves. West Java province was the worst hit, with at least 200 houses swept away by the tidal waves along the coast of Pelabuhan Ratu. Weather forecasters have predicted the high waves would occur in the upcoming days and warned tourists to avoid coastline areas.
Television footage showed the high waves crashing into the tourist island of Bali, parts of the southern coast of Java island and Sukabumi area in West Java where dozens of residents scrambled inland as flood waters flowed into a little village. “More than 400 people escaped from their houses since the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency said the tidal waves will last for three days.” Weather officials said the waves which began hitting the Indonesian coast on Thursday and continued on Friday were UNUSUAL and not linked with the annual weather pattern. One scientist said “the moon is in line with the sun and this, therefore, results in higher tidal waves than usual. Tidal waves are predicted to occur for three days, then it will be normal again.” Another weather official said the waves were caused by winds accumulating in one spot. “What happened today was caused by winds accumulating in certain spots, causing the sea to rise and move towards the beach. Tidal waves caused by wind movement are VERY RARE. It’s rather ODD actually … It will be normal in three days.” (photo)
The massive waves pounded Indonesia’s coastlines for a third day Saturday, forcing fishermen to stay on land and keeping tourists from the beaches. One person was killed by the huge waves that began hitting coasts across the sprawling archipelago on Thursday and dozens of fishing boats were destroyed by the rushing waters that rose as high as 7m in some areas. The waves receded to 1.5-2m in some parts today, but weather officials still warned fishermen against sailing in the Java Sea. The waves could rise up to 3m in the Indian Ocean near the western part of Java. The crashing waves, which have struck all the way from Aceh on the northern tip of Sumatra to the resort island of Bali, have triggered panic among residents in some parts. Among the worst hit was Sukabumi regency in West Java where more than 600 people have fled from their homes.
Victims of massive high waves, are counting losses, while the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency warned Saturday that the waves may still occur in the next three days. In Meulaboh, Aceh province, thousands of houses in 10 villages were swept by massive waves, forcing people fled their houses. Meanwhile, in Bantul regency, Yogyakarta, the waves also damaged hundreds of houses. High waves also hit Bali, West Sumatra, Pelabuhanratu in West Java, Central Java, and Papua. In Pelabuhanratu, hundreds of high wave victims were still in temporary shelters as their houses were stormed by the waves on Saturday.
THAILAND – A road in Ban Ta Khun district was closed to traffic yesterday after it partially sank due to the presence of large holes underneath it, believed to be the result of a soil-shifting effect caused by the 2004 tsunami. The holes were large enough to sink a car. A new road might have to be built because the road could subside again. The holes, the biggest of them many metres deep, were found near one another. The ground there has been prone to sinking after the tsunami hit Andaman coastal provinces, although Surat Thani borders the Gulf of Thailand. The deadly waves brought about wide geographical changes, causing large gaps in the soil in some of the southern provinces. The area is made of carbonate rock, a rock type that typically has cavities. The rock cannot resist heavy weights and needs ground water to support it. Geologists believe the powerful earthquake which triggered the tsunami may have caused water to flow out through cracks in the soil. The loose soil structure had to bear the weight of water from rainfall, contributing to the land sinking. Elsewhere, heavy rain and high tides continued to cause flash floods, affecting commercial areas and farmland. In Phuket, some beaches, including popular Patong beach, were closed to swimmers due to high tide and strong waves. Floods inundated low-lying areas in Ayutthaya’s Bang Ban, Phak Hai and Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya districts as water overflowed from the Chao Phraya and Noi rivers. Badly hit is Bang Ban district where crops and garden vegetables grown on the river banks were submerged. The vegetables were planted after the floods late last year and residents were hoping to make money off them. The overflowing water in the province was mainly caused by high tides on May 17 and 19. The floods now threaten many archaeological sites and ancient temples. Officials are closely monitoring the situation and will designate the affected areas as “disaster zones”. (photo)
Provincial authorities are guarding beaches in Phuket, banning swimming and access to the beaches due to dangerously strong winds and high tide. This week’s unusually high tide peaks Saturday at Phuket Island. Life has slowed to a standstill with the rising tide affecting beachfront shops, homes, and seaside restaurants. Would-be holiday-makers instead gazed raptly at waves which are three- to four-metres high. Crowds of residents and tourists watched the beach with a kind of grim fascination, calling to mind memories of the twin giant waves in 2004.
REUNION – The origin and movement of waves reaching up to 11 metres that devastated France’s Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean on Saturday evening, May 12, have been detected by satellite. The waves that thrashed the southern port of Saint Pierre, leaving two fishermen missing, causing several piers to collapse and flooding several homes and businesses, originated south of Cape Town, South Africa, and travelled northeast for nearly 4000 km over a period of three days before slamming into Reunion Island. “Swells are still surprise factors, which can unfortunately be deadly.” Although waves were forecast to hit Reunion Island, their intensity was predicted to be only a couple of metres. Swell periods are typically in the range of 12 to 25 seconds.” A larger wave period correlates to a more extreme wind event. The one that hit Saint Pierre, Reunion Island, had a 19-second range and initially originated from very intense storm winds on May 8. Waves of all wavelengths and travelling in several directions are generated by storms. Upon leaving the storm, they disperse and those with the longest wavelengths travel the fastest. Approaching the coastline, the wave system slows down and individual waves increase to easily reach at least two times the mean average of their initial wave height.
INDONESIA – FREAK WAVES – On Thursday, high waves hit coastal areas across Indonesia, devastating houses, expelling tourists from beaches, preventing fishermen from going down to the sea, and causing at least one person to go missing. On the Indonesian main resort island of Bali, high waves hit dozens of makeshift buildings owned by vendors in Kedonganan beach, Jimbaran district, Badung regency after they had been swept by high waves since Thursday. “A sudden high wave was (also) devastating huts owned by fishermen,” and a number of fishing boats were also destroyed. Meanwhile, beaches on the island, which were usually crowded by tourists, were quiet Friday as they were prevented from approaching those areas. In Yogyakarta, high waves destroyed dozens of building in Kuwaru beach, Bantul regency. “The high waves, which had occurred since late Thursday to Friday destroyed a number of houses and kiosks.” The high waves reached up to 8 meters above the sea level. A similar condition was also seen in Pelabuhanratu beach, Sukabumi regency, West Java as hundreds of houses and kiosks were swept by the high waves. In West Sumatra, high waves did not only damage houses, but also prevented fishermen from going to the sea. An official said that high waves had occurred since Thursday. In Aceh, rescuers were searching for a senior high school student, who was swept by high waves when he and his friends were in Lhoknga beach, Aceh Besar regency Thursday. The waves have been generated by strong winds blowing across the Indian Ocean.
SRI LANKA – A tidal surge flooded the Paliyawatte Island off Kalpitiya on Wednesday. The National Aquatic Research and Development Agency predicted that more tidal surges may occur in the seas off Kalpitiya till Tuesday. (Kalpitiya is 103 miles (165 kms) from Colombo.) The tide was a combination of the tidal surge and the normal astronomical tide, and was not a tidal wave and was not induced by tidal phenomena. “It is enhanced during high tides with strong winds”. Regions with gentle slopes of the continental shelf experience larger surges, while areas with narrow continental shelves experience smaller surges. Tidal surges can occur one or two days after the full and new moon days. The highest tide occurred in the seas off Kalpitiya in the evening with simultaneous strong winds. 150 houses were flooded, with over 60 families displaced. Dry rations have been provided to them by the Navy. Similar tides occurred in the Kalpitya area in May 1996. A small scale tide occurred in Hikkaduwa in June 1988. Meanwhile it was reported that a similar tide occurred in Hambantota area last afternoon. However the emergency operations unit said there were no reports on any loss of lives or displacements. “Tides usually hit the coast and travel back to the sea therefore they cannot do much damage.”
MAURITIUS & RODRIGUES – FREAK WAVES swept away at least six people off the coast of the Indian Ocean islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues at the weekend. One person went missing after a strong swell overturned his boat off the coast of south-east Mauritius on Saturday evening, while three fishermen disappeared on Sunday afternoon off Rodrigues, a territory 560km to the east of Mauritius. There was also no sign of two coast guards whose boat was overturned when they were searching for the missing fishermen on Sunday afternoon. Mauritius weather services reported waves of larger than three metres off the coast of the Indian Ocean islands at the weekend, and warned of further large waves on Monday. Two fishermen went missing on Saturday evening off the neighbouring French island of Reunion after their boat was swept away by a giant wave.
REUNION – A FREAK WAVE sparked panic in the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion where two fishermen were still missing on Sunday after their boat broke into two and capsized the previous evening. Three coastguards who went out to sea on Saturday evening had to be rescued themselves by a police vessel as their rubber dinghy could not return to the port. The giant wave lashed the southern port of Saint Pierre on Saturday evening sending several piers crashing down and flooding homes along the coastline. Five families had to be evacuated from their homes. France’s meteorological office said the giant wave, estimated at 11 metres in some places, came from the south and added that it was a “recurring phenomenon in winter” in the southern hemisphere. Many locals said the waves were worse than the tropical cyclone Gamede which killed one person in Mauritius and injured nine in Reunion in February. An elderly man in neighbouring Saint-Louis said the storm was the WORST IN LIVING MEMORY. “I have never seen anything like this, even during the Dina and Gamede cyclones.” On Sunday, waves of up to four to five metres were seen lashing the western and southern parts of the island. Local authorities have meanwhile banned traffic on the seafront as a precautionary measure. (photo)
AUSTRALIA – FREAK WAVE – authorities on Saturday rescued a Japanese yachtsman who was attempting to become the oldest solo sailor to circumnavigate the world without stopping. The 77-year-old hit trouble overnight when his yacht was disabled by a FREAK WAVE in the Southern Ocean about 100 kilometres (62 miles) southwest of Tasmania. A police helicopter winched him to safety and he was being taken to a Hobart hospital with leg and back injuries.
SOUTH AFRICA – FREAK WAVE – A Perth man is missing and another is seriously injured after a FREAK, 12m wave smashed into their yacht deep in the southern Indian Ocean on Monday night, April 30. The yacht’s owner and skipper broke a leg when the yacht was knocked down about 8pm and another crew member received a badly bruised leg and cuts to his head. Late last night they had managed to start the boat’s engine and begin a search for the missing crewman who had been at the helm of the yacht. His lifeline snapped in the maelstrom and he was washed overboard as the storm smashed the boat’s mizzen mast. He was wearing an inflatable safety harness but by last night had been in the freezing waters for almost 24 hours. The latest tragedy comes two weeks after a 12m catamaran was found drifting about 160km north-east of Townsville, Australia, without its 3-member crew who were possibly victims of a FREAK WAVE. It had left Airlie Beach four days earlier on a journey to Perth.
4/20/07 – SEA LEVEL SURGE-
More than one billion people live in low-lying areas where a sudden surge in sea level could prove as disastrous as the 2004 Asian tsunami, according to new research. New mapping techniques show how much land would be lost and how many people affected by rapid sea-level rises that are often triggered by storms and earthquakes. Nearly one-quarter of the world’s population lives 30m below sea level – the size of the biggest surge during the 2004 tsunami that pulverised villages along the Indian Ocean and killed 230,000 people. A 30m rise in sea level would cover 9.5 million sq km of land worldwide. A rise of just 5m would affect 669 million people and 5.4 million sq km of land would be lost. Sea levels are rising about 1-2mm each year, making it unlikely such a scenario would suddenly occur across the globe. But 10,000 years ago, sea levels rose 20m in 500 years – a relatively short span – after the collapse of the continental ice sheets. The impetus for the project came after the tsunami in 2004 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005 underlined the devastating impact sudden sea level surges can have on those living in coastal areas. 53% of the U.S.’s population lives within 50 miles of the coastlines.
MEXICO – FREAK WAVE – Six people were rescued Monday after being swept out into Acapulco Bay when an UNUSUALLY LARGE wave washed over part of the resort city’s coastal road. Photos showed the seawater reaching the wheel wells of cars on the hotel-lined boulevard, dozens of yards inland from the normal high-tide mark. The six people rescued were apparently walking along the beach when the wave hit and were pulled to safety by passing boats. The wave occurred on a sunny, hot day with no storm in sight, and its source was not clear. Such unusual waves can sometimes happen in good weather because of meteorological phenomenon occurring farther out to sea. (photo)
SOUTH AFRICA – The extraordinary waves that wreaked havoc along the KwaZulu-Natal coast on Monday had very little to do with high spring tides, or the much-publicised 18.6-year alignment of the Earth, moon and sun. Quite simply, it was a very powerful and UNUSUAL storm at sea that drove up the height of waves to 8m to 12m, the highest waves recorded along this part of the coast for at least 23 years. This is according to SA Weather Service principal researcher Ian Hunter, who laid the blame for the flooding and destruction of property on an intense “cut-off” low pressure system – the same type of weather phenomenon that caused the September 1987 floods in Durban and the Laingsberg floods of January 1981. Hunter said cut-off lows often led to very high coastal wind speeds as well as wave swells that hit the coast at odd angles, causing more erosion. The build-up of the bad weather and the point of maximum intensity on Monday morning had been captured by weather prediction models in other countries three to four days in advance. “Not only was the location correctly predicted at this stage – the forecast intensity was also very close to what actually transpired. Similarly, the global wave models were also foreseeing the 10m waves analysed off the east coast, with a lead time of three to four days.” His comments have raised questions about whether the SA Weather Service warning notices adequately reflected the severity and danger of the impending storm. Records show that the weather service did in fact issue a warning at 5pm on the Saturday preceding the storm, warning of gale-force winds and predicting “very rough seas with wave heights of 5m or more”. In his article analysing the cause of the FREAK weather event, Hunter acknowledged that the high spring tides contributed to some extent to the higher water levels – but if there had been no bad weather at the time, the spring high tide level in Durban would have been no more than 50cm above an average high tide. In Hunter’s opinion, the cyclical alignment of the Earth, sun and moon was not nearly as significant as the wind and storm-induced “surge” effect that accounted for the monster-sized waves. Waves as high as 8m are recorded about once a year along the Cape south-west coast, but such high waves are EXTREMELY RARE on the KZN coast.
SOUTH AFRICA – Tons of photos of the monster wave damage.
SOUTH AFRICA – Scientists monitoring waves off the South African coast say the highest wave measured during the violent storms off KwaZulu-Natal this week was a startling 12m, measured off Richards Bay. And although this single storm cannot be labelled “climate change”, scientists say it was a rare event that may be linked to the phenomenon. “This is a RARE event – both in terms of the impact and the atmospheric feature which gave rise to it, which was PARTICULARLY UNUSUAL.” The waves in this week’s storms were the HIGHEST THEY HAD MEASURED on the KZN coast IN 23 YEARS. The “significant wave height” was 8.5m during the storm. “The last time we measured waves like this off Richards Bay was in February 1984 with Cyclone Imboa.” “For the east coast of South Africa this week’s storm is quite a significant event. Normally cut-off lows move off in an easterly direction fairly quickly, but if they remain in one place, they will generate big waves.” The storm was caused by a cut-off low – a closed low pressure system that rotates clockwise and can generate strong winds and intense rainfall. “Because it was east of the country, the strong winds off the coast covered a large stretch of ocean, allowing the ocean swell to become very large. It developed east of South Africa, off the coast above the warm Agulhas current. This is RARE as they almost always develop west of the country and move across the country, often bringing extreme rainfall. What actually caused it to form and become so strong is still not clear.”
Rough seas lashed stones and debris onto the N2 roadway, posing a danger to motorists in Port Elizabeth Wednesday. This triggered a warning from the provincial transport department for motorists to drive with caution on the N2 between Deal Party and Bluewater Bay following the road damage earlier that morning. Although the road was cleared, “motorists are warned to be careful because high swells are still being experienced”. Seas have been rough over the past couple of days. However, conditions were expected to moderate Thursday. Earlier in the week the KwaZulu Natal coastline was pounded by massive waves. The resultant widespread flooding left one person dead, several others injured and caused considerable damage to Durban‘s Golden Mile as well as to other popular resorts. There were equally heavy seas off the Eastern Cape coast with huge waves of up to nine metres off East London and swells of six metres reported off the Port Elizabeth coastline.
AUSTRALIA – Coast trio in lucky escape as boat flips – Three youths scrambled to safety after their boat capsized off Point Cartwright yesterday in what would have looked like something out of the Hollywood blockbuster ‘A Perfect Storm’. Thankfully on this occasion rough waves did little more than give the local boys a few scratches and one hell of a fright. They were out fishing in their four-metre dinghy when disaster struck about 11.30am and they found themselves under water. “A FREAK WAVE tipped the boat.” The men were cutting up bait and may have been distracted when the wave hit. “They said they had all the safety gear but they didn’t have a chance to get their life jackets on. They are very lucky.”
FLORIDA – Saltwater tides from the north end of the Greenway intruded into soil south of Jasmine Street, killing at least 50 acres of red maple trees and other freshwater-dependent vegetation. 50 acres of freshwater forest has turned into a dead zone since consultants working on a Saltmarsh Restoration Project – which was supposed to flood only the area north of Jasmine Street – incorrectly interpreted hydrological models. Elevated water levels also contributed to the kill. A local zoologist pointed out that freshwater habitat is rare on Amelia Island, and critical to supporting wildlife.
BRITAIN – Strong winds and high tides caused chaos yesterday as Britain’s Arctic storm battered coastlines. Hundreds were evacuated from their homes amid serious flood warnings as swelling tides swept over sea defences. Force-eight gales blasted the country from the north – making daytime temperatures feel as low as minus 8C in the wind chill – coupled with the UNUSUALLY HIGH spring tides, triggered fears for life and property. The disruption came as the bitter winter weather began battering the east coast after days of bringing snow and freezing temperatures to the north and west. Drivers who parked on Southend seafront in Essex returned to find seawater lapping against their tyres. The legs of the town’s pier disappeared under the waves as the sea rose. Wintry showers – a mixture of snow, hail and sleet – lashed the whole eastern coastline yesterday, travelling as far inland as the Midlands. On the north-east coast, the esplanades at Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, and Redcar, Teesside, were flooded. At Redcar parked cars were swamped by several inches of water. One driver raced to his car and sped away just before an enormous wave engulfed the esplanade car park. Lifeboats and two RAF rescue helicopters were last night scrambled to a Belgian cargo ship with a crew of 23 struggling in heavy seas and gale force winds off Grimsby, Lincs.
SOUTH AFRICA – The beachfront areas were pounded by massive surf in the early hours of Monday morning leaving the city’s famed Golden Mile littered with debris as emergency services rescued numerous people. Winds in excess of 40 knots [80km/h or gale force] were reported on Sunday night. “This is not a spring tide but all the factors with the strong onshore winds have caused the spring tide-like conditions.” The heavy weather forced the closure of all port operations in Durban. There was flooding in the area caused by the swelling of the river and strong onshore winds. “We are identifying the major disaster areas and will be trying to help evacuate people there first.” One person was beleived drowned when a car was washed off a bridge in Umkomaas, however, it was later determined that it was empty. Two women at Durban’s popular Blue Lagoon were washed off their feet when a FREAK WAVE broke over the bollards and crashed into the parking lot in the early hours of Monday morning. Staff at the Steers restaurant on the Lower Marine Parade were injured when waves crashed into the restaurant.
Monster waves – Hundreds of firefighters and police were on standby last night as Durban braced itself for more of the monster waves that battered the KwaZulu-Natal coastline yesterday. Swells of between 5m and 8m trashed restaurants on Durban’s Lower Marine Parade, ripped up riverside boardwalks in St Lucia, flooded a hotel in Isipingo and almost demolished a sewage station in Ballito. At Richards Bay, massive, muddy waves pounded through the harbour entrance and came within metres of washing away a municipal building. “The highest astronomical tide (which occurs every 18 years) is not a problem on its own. But it coincides with cyclones and extreme winds that whip up the swells.” Durban’s Golden Mile and other beaches would be shut to the public for at least two days. Paving was torn up all along the promenade and some roads around the beachfront were closed because of sand. “Ballito is in tatters. Some houses there had to be evacuated.” A hotel in Isipingo was also evacuated, and all along the coast storm-water outlets had collapsed. At least one death has been confirmed as a result of the high seas along the coastline.
Hundreds of thousands of “disaster tourists” are risking life and limb by flocking to the coast to photograph the rubble-strewn disaster area. The “Golden Mile” beachfront was pounded by massive surf in the early hours of Monday, leaving the area littered with debris. “We just need one freak wave and that’s it.” The emergency services warned: “At any time more swells could assault the beaches, and if the area is as congested as it is at the moment, loss of life can be expected.” Durban’s weather office had confirmed that Monday and Tuesday could see even-bigger waves hitting the beleaguered coast, with the situation normalising by Wednesday once the winds have stopped.
Durban hospitals were filling up with storm victims as rescue and emergency services prepared for “the mother of all storms”, that hit the KwaZulu-Natal coastline at about 6pm on Monday. Emergency services fielded numerous reports of missing people, collapsing homes and flooding due to a freak tidal wave in Durban. Freak tidal waves battered the coastline on Sunday night and dozens of people had to be rescued, while many others are still missing and feared dead. In Isipingo, seven people were rescued from a rooftop after the hotel they were staying in was flooded by high tidal waves. On Durban’s beachfront, some restaurants and shops were damaged after two freak waves “roughly three metres high” struck between 2 and 3am. Windows were shattered and doors were completely broken down. Fourteen workers who were trapped inside the restaurants were rescued by emergency services and taken to various hospitals. Waves also hit holiday homes on the Bluff and at Ballito and a wall was washed away at the Inyoni Rocks swimming pool at the Amanzimtoti beachfront. In Ballito, 10 houses had extensive damage, with one beach house found with trees in its lounge. Security gates, retaining walls and walls had all been washed away, leaving the houses exposed to the elements. At Zinkwazi, the parking lot, usually level with the beach, was being eaten away by the waves and what remains is now nine metres above the sand. The skiboat slipway had disintegrated and all that remained of a beachfront pub was twisted metal. (photos)
Durban weather services noted RECORD SWELL SIZES (mammoth swells of 25 feet) along the Durban coast on Monday morning. “We are at the equinox spring high. But it is at the highest it has been for 18 years because the sun, moon and earth were in a straight line. This, coupled with “a very deep low pressure system” off the southeast coast of East London that developed on the weekend, added an extra 3 to 4m to the swells. “We now have swells at over 6m on our coast. At the high tide earlier this morning at 02:00 some extremely high swells broke on the coast causing damage.” “Winds are expected to persist southwest galeforce for another 18 to 20 hours and will then begin to moderate, and the swells will go down after 36 hours once the wind moderates.” “It is by far the BIGGEST SWELL WE HAVE EVER SEEN in Scottburgh.” The biggest waves were expected at 16:00 on Monday and 04:00 today. (photo)
Emergency personnel and police were searching for eight people who were believed to have been washed off a bridge during a flash flood in Inanda, north of Durban. The eight victims were apparently on a bridge early on Thursday night when they were swept off when a flash flood hit. The bridge crossed over a normally dry waterway. The two-hour storm around 21:00 on Thursday caused severe flooding, leading to several flooded roads, causing accidents, and other disruptions in the Durban area. Heavy winds had also damaged roofs and caused trees to fall across roadways. The Durban beach front was also flooded on the lower Marine promenade.
BRITAIN – Coastal communities around East Anglia are hoping to avoid serious flooding problems despite the twin threat of high tides and strong winds. Areas such as Wells and Blakeney have seen sea water washing on to quaysides and car parks over the past few days due to the spring equinox tides and northerly winds. Lifeboats and flood wardens were also on standby at Bacton on Sunday due to fears about water encroaching into homes and businesses. More higher than average high tides are due over the next two days. “We are keeping a close watch on the tide situation, particularly in view of the northerly wind and low pressure.” The combination of the high tides with a northerly wind acts as a friction on the sea and pushes it down the North Sea funnel. But the wind hasn’t been acting long enough for it to be a significant problem.
NEW ZEALAND – a FREAK WAVE on March 12 swept two boys into the sea from their rock fishing spot in the Bay of Islands. They were fishing off the rocks on the normally placid Kerikeri inlet and went around a headland to another fishing spot when they were swept into the sea. “One of the locals was on a surf board and apparently found one of the boys and pulled him back into the shore.” One of the boys was badly cut by the rocks but managed to walk up to the waiting ambulance. The other, who has suspected back injuries from being smashed against the rocks, was carried out on a stretcher.
AUSTRALIA – The eastern coast of Australia is witnessing a RARE and unpredictable phenomenon: a vast maritime cyclone. Sixty miles off Sydney, the vortex has a diameter of 200km and a depth of 1km. It is whirling round with such force that it has lowered the sea level by almost a metre and changed the predominant current structure in the region. It carries more water than 250 Amazon rivers. Ocean eddies are found all over the world. They are a normal occurrence in nature. They happen when different flows meet. They are among the most important processes affecting weather. Eddies perform some of the work of transferring energy from one part of a weather system to another. While they cannot be described as a freak of nature, eddies as large as that discovered off Sydney can play a significant part in unexpected climate events, particularly “El Niño”-style anomalies. Giant eddies usually last about a week, but some can keep swirling for up to a month. They do not “cease”, but transfer energy by pulling smaller eddies into their vortex.
Rogue waves – Scientists from the German Space Agency say they have mapped incidents of extremely large waves, known as rogue waves, using synthetic aperture radar satellite data, and will soon publish a massive wave atlas for the first time. Such waves can mysteriously surge 100 feet (or about the height of a 12-story building) and sink massive cargo ships in their wake. There are a relatively small number of buoys or oil platforms collecting such data, and they are rarely deployed in remote oceans and seas where rogue waves are thought to be more likely to appear. During the very rare circumstances when high waves do surge against buoys or oil platforms, wave-height sensors are often damaged. Ship sinkings and ensuing deaths caused by the phenomenon are probably more numerous than officially recorded, given the large number of vessels that simply disappear without a trace every year. Now that they’ve located where these huge monster waves have appeared, the researchers know where they are likely to occur again. With their real-time weather data and average-wave-height forecasts, the rogue-wave maps could help save lives.
NEW YORK – Allstate is already refusing to renew policies in metro New York because of storm vulnerability. Sand underlies much of downtown above the Financial District. If a storm surge pushes through the West Village it is going to scour the sand that supports lots of unreinforced buildings, causing them to collapse or otherwise be unusable. It’s not just the West Village, Red Hook is mostly fill, Coney Island and the Rockaways are nothing more than semi-permanent barrier islands, all the islands within Jamaica Bay are only a couple feet above sea level, as are JFK and LaGuardia airports. Shiny new glass buildings are also a problem. Under the current building code, windows have to withstand wind gusts up to 110 miles an hour. That’s fine for a minor hurricane, but it offers little protection in a major storm. The options for holding back the sea are not pretty. A seawall would have to be dozens of feet high. A wall that high needs to be really wide. To deal with these problems the mayor has set up PLANYC, the Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability. Global warming is driving up the sea level – five inches higher by 2030 and another couple inches by 2050. While that doesn’t sound like much, a slightly higher sea level lets water from a storm surge travel much further inland. Couple sea level rise with a likely increase in the frequency and strength of storms, both tropical and nor’easters, and you greatly increase the risk of an infrastructure disaster.
“Sea level rise is now going up about 3.5 centimetres per decade. So that’s more than double what it was 50 years ago. But it’s still not disastrous; it’s a problem, but it’s not disastrous. But the potential is for a much larger sea level rise. If we get warming of two or three degrees Celsius, then I would expect that both West Antarctica and parts of Greenland would end up in the ocean, and the last time we had an ice sheet disintegrate, sea level went up at a rate of 5 metres in a century, or one metre every 20 years. That is a real disaster, and that’s what we have to avoid…It worries me a lot because in our country the government science agencies have public affairs offices which are now staffed with political appointees and those political appointees have a big impact on what science gets reported and how it’s reported. And I’m very disturbed about that. I think that public affairs officials should be helping scientists speak in a language that the public can understand but they shouldn’t be massaging the information. And the other example is reporting, testifying to Congress. I don’t understand why a scientist’s testimony has to be approved by the White House. Government scientists are paid by the public, paid by taxes and I think we’re working for the public and for Congress, as well as for the executive branch, and I don’t think that our testimony should be filtered.” The observed rate of sea-level rise is greater than the models can explain. To give an idea of the impact of even a moderate rise in sea levels, the Insurance Industry of Australia undertook a study in 2006, before most of the recent research on Ice Sheet melting, of the likely impact of rising sea levels, especially when compounded with King tides and storm surges. The study identified 700,000 buildings at risk nationwide around the coast of Australia from rising sea levels.
AUSTRALIA – The marine equivalent of a cyclone is sitting off Sydney’s coast, causing a massive whirlpool which is turning the ocean green and spewing chilly water towards beaches. A 200 kilometre-wide cyclonic eddy has pulled the sea’s surface down by 70 centimetres and sucked cold deep ocean water onto Australia’s eastern continental shelf. The whirlpool is 1000 metres deep, reaching the ocean floor. The centre is 100 kilometres off the coast and could stay there for several months. Satellites can measure the drop in ocean surface caused by the eddy’s pull, clearly showing how it is pushing aside the powerful East Australian Current running off the coast. Another eddy of similar proportions is sitting further off the coast. “It doesn’t seem to be impacting beach temperatures at the moment, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen again.” The current cyclonic eddy could chill water at the edge of the continental shelf from 18 degrees to 14 degrees. “It has a big impact on ocean ecology – the cold water coming up has a lot of nutrients and when that’s combined with sun, the phytoplankton grows like crazy.” (map)
ICELAND – A resident in Eyrarbakki, south Iceland, was washed into the ocean when a tidal wave hit his car at the pier in the neighboring town of Stokkseyri Friday. A firefighter rescued him ashore. He was helping a friend bringing a boat to land, which was tied to the pier, when the incident occurred. He parked his car on the pier with a trailer attached to it and was about to drag the boat onto the trailer when a huge wave swept him out to sea. He managed to crawl out of the window on the roof of his car. “It felt like I was stranded on a desert island,” he said. A firefighter arrived at the scene and tossed a rope. He tied the rope to his trailer and managed to save himself and his equipment.
NEW ZEALAND – Two fishermen suffered cuts and bruises and one has a possible neck injury after a FREAK WAVE knocked them off rocks near Kerikeri Inlet in Northland and out to sea. Their uncle climbed a hill and ran a kilometre to raise the alarm. One of the young men was rescued by a local surfer and the other made it to shore by himself.
AUSTRALIA – A man holidaying near a western Victorian resort town drowned after a FREAK WAVE sank his boat. His friend had to be plucked from the water after their fishing boat overturned at Two Mile Bay, at Port Campbell. “One man had tripped and fallen over the side of the boat. The other guy turned the boat around and went back to find him, but a big wave has come and up-ended the boat.” The survivor was treated for hypothermia.
BRITAIN – Two swept to their death by a FREAK WAVE. Less than a week ago a Coventry man died with his partner, Patricia, when they were caught by a massive surge of water as they stood holding hands on a harbour wall in Cornwall. People at Mullion Cove threw a lifebelt to him as he desperately tried to stay afloat and he managed to grab it but it’s rope broke. Three members of the lifeboat crews who took part in a rescue attempt were injured.
HIGH TIDES / TIDAL WAVES -
CHINA – Tidal waves hit the coast – At least three people were killed and seven more are still missing after tidal waves struck the coast of northern and eastern China over the last two days. Powerful winds measuring up to 144.7 km per hour whipped up high waves which crashed into downtown areas of Weihai, a port city on the east China coast on Sunday and Monday.The Yuanyao Dock near Sunjiatuan in Weihai collapsed during the onslaught of the surging tidal waves. One fisherman working just offshore and a worker on a boat moored at Yuanyao Dock drowned. One firefighter died in hospital after being injured in the carnage. Around 10:30 p.m. on Sunday, a taxi with two passengers became trapped by the waves on its way to a dock in northern Weihai. Eight fire fighters rushed to the site where the cab was stranded and dragged the three people out the cab, but were hit by further waves. One fire fighter, the taxi driver and one passenger are now missing. Seven people, including six fire fighters and the other taxi passenger, are all in hospital. Some workers were on boats near the dock when the new round of waves hit and their fate is currently unknown. The tidal waves, THE FIRST SINCE 1969, also destroyed greenhouses, ponds for breeding aquatic products, houses and utilities in the city, with the damage valued at more than 900 million yuan (about US$112.5 million). Areas along the Bohai Rim in north China’s Hebei Province were also hit by the WORST TIDAL WAVE IN 39 YEARS over the weekend. The waves did not cause any fatalities, but destroyed gas and power supplies in Cangzhou, Tangshan, Qinhuangdao and Tianjin, as well as offshore facilities for breeding aquatic products on the Bohai Sea.
FREAK WAVES -
SOUTH AFRICA – A massive operation was expected to begin yesterday to clean up the promenade at much of Durban’s Golden Mile, which lies under sand washed far ashore by giant waves powered by Cyclone Gamede at the weekend. The cyclone created swells reaching 3.5m along the coastline. A low-pressure system and the circular motion of the tropical cyclone combined to push out the large waves. The cyclone, which devastated parts of Mozambique last week, is expected to have no further effect on the weather. “The waves moved between 30m and 50m along the beach and against a steep gradient. They went over the pier and the concrete banks. It was the first time that I had witnessed waves moving so high.” Meanwhile, in the Eastern Cape, four people were injured after being struck by lightning, one man died and hundreds more are homeless after a heavy hail storm near eNgcobo at the weekend. The man was killed when his house collapsed during the storm. At St Lucia, natural forces combined to produce a spectacle at the weekend, revitalising a long-dormant estuarine system. Huge waves from rough seas, a spring tide and strong winds caused the sand bank at the estuary mouth to breach after being closed for five years, sending water rushing into the lake. There would be a significant effect on the lake as the intrusion of seawater would kill off any fish intolerant of salt water. The big waves were expected to be around for the next six days.
SOUTH KOREA – Typhoon-like sudden frost hits nation – One hundred thirty plastic green houses in Jinju and Sacheon were damaged by the strong winds causing three billion won in damage. In particular, since the plastic covers of the green houses were torn off and flew away, there was huge damage caused to watermelons and strawberries, which were about to be harvested. Due to strong winds with heavy rain and snow across the nation for two days on March 4 and 5, damage was caused including the breakdown of ships and facilities and the suspension of airplane services. On Monday morning, a 480 ton class Russian ship called the Sulim, which was at anchor in a harbor in Namhang, Seo-gu, Busan, was swept away by waves and partly sunk. Coast guards and fire officials rescued three of the crew members. A 1.3 ton class gill netter called H, which was at anchor in Nasari Harbor in Seosaeng Ulju-gun, Ulsan, was overturn by strong winds at 10:00 a.m. yesterday. Moreover, a tugboat named IlsungT1 (134t) was stranded by strong winds and spilled roughly 50,000 liters of bunker oil. Roughly 360 ships were tied up together in 64 harbors in the Gangwon area due to the strong winds with high surf. Also, about 3,500 ships urgently took shelter.
OREGON – The waves have been doing some interesting things all week. “With the way the tides have been, the waves have been really angry. They’ve been really big, doing some spectacular things. It hasn’t been the normal wave after wave, which gets a bit hypnotizing. I suppose it’s the ‘March comes in like a lion’ thing.” BeachConnection.net caught a few photographs of the tidal insanity on the central coast, when swells of thirty feet or more created some monstrous waves. These UNUSUAL, powerful breakers were expected to be seen periodically over the weekend as well. The crew at the Seaside Aquarium said more than a few interesting things can be seen with UNUSUAL CONDITIONS that have been causing a variety of oceanic wonders to wash up.
BAHAMAS – On February 26th, one person died after what police in the Bahamas call “a freak accident,” while jet skiing on a Nassau-area beach. A FREAK WAVE knocked a couple off their rented jet ski and they struggled to get ashore. The young man was pronounced dead on the beach.
NEW ZEALAND – Authorities in New Zealand called off the search for missing trans-Tasman kayaker Andrew McAuley on February 11th. The decision to suspend the search came after fruitless searching. It was not known why the Australian adventurer issued a distress call in relatively calm waters near New Zealand after surviving much harsher conditions during his voyage from Tasmania. McAuley’s kayak, in which he had paddled from Tasmania toward New Zealand’s South Island, was found a day after the distress call, but there was no sign of the man. During the 1500 kilometres he had travelled before he got into trouble, he had aready been battered by nine-metre waves and gale force winds. There was speculation he might have been tossed from his craft after a FREAK WAVE tore off a protective canopy. The recovered vessel was complete except for the 70 centimetre-tall fibreglass bubble that sat at the back. The device could be locked over the cockpit as McAuley slept. It also enabled the kayak to right itself when it capsized. “Everything in the boat is in perfect working order, except it doesn’t have the bubble…Something big has ripped the bubble off and probably capsized him.” McAuley left Tasmania on January 11 against the advice of the national search and rescue organisation that the crossing was too dangerous. He had modified his kayak to deal with the cold after turning back from an attempt in December.
SOUTH AFRICA – A couple died on January 9 when they were pulled into the water at Bakoven after a FREAK WAVE swept them off the rocks.
CAYMAN ISLANDS – A 40-year-old Filipino national has died after it is believed a large wave washed three men into the sea. The three were fishing at Pedro Castle on New Year’s Day when heavy seas appear to have caught them unawares. In July 2006, a family of four had to be rescued at Pedro Castle after two youngsters were swept into the sea by a freak wave. A teenager drowned in 2003 after jumping into rough seas in the same area.
UNITED KINGDOM – 12/31/06 – A walker was feared drowned after being swept into raging seas from rocks. The 24-year-old was staying with 14 friends at Trevone, Cornwall, when they went walking on the beach. He was dragged into the sea by a FREAK WAVE as he stood on rocks. Several members of the party tried to help but were unable to reach the man in 25ft breaking surf driven by gale-force winds.
HIGH TIDES / TIDAL WAVES -
UNITED KINGDOM – ‘This is erosion LIKE WE’VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE’ – One the most ambitious regeneration projects ever undertaken along seven miles of the Welsh coastline is crumbling into the sea. The Millennium Coastal Park in Carmarthenshire, which cost some £30m, is losing huge chunks to the ocean. A combination of high tides and storms have now seen a major section of the park, about a quarter of a mile long, slip into the Burry Estuary, which is notorious for its strong tides. The latest incident at the park took place last Monday, when a 400-metre stretch of cycle path near Burry Port was destroyed by waves. A “FREAK” 8.4 metre-high tide was blamed, as well as violent waves caused by Atlantic storms. “It’s very alarming and is causing serious concern in the town. Something serious is happening. It’s unbelievable.” “A lot of local experts on tides have said that the recent swells have been extremely high. We’re suffering with these swells that are battering the coast.” A report by the National Trust earlier this month predicted a grim future for Wales’ picturesque, and increasingly lucrative, coastline. Increased flooding and erosion was predicted because of storms and raised sea levels caused by climate change.
England no longer defending coast – The offshore wooden barrier that once protected the sand and clay cliffs of a stretch of eastern English coast has broken apart, and the government has decided that with the expected rise in sea levels and storm surges that experts attribute to global warming, some vulnerable coastal areas are no longer worth defending. “The next big storm could take us away.” Predictions of rising sea levels usually envision the low-lying islands of the south seas, or cyclone-prone Bangladesh, as the most vulnerable victims. But Britain is part of a growing club of rich countries whose coastal populations feel threatened. Hurricane Katrina looked to many like the shape of things to come when it devastated New Orleans in 2005. Venice is building up its defenses. Holland is rethinking its famous seawalls. The fears have grown more acute following the release this month of a report by scientists from 113 countries forecasting temperature rises of 2 to 11.5 degrees Fahrenheit and sea level rises of 7 to 23 inches by the end of the century. It says global warming is almost certainly man-made. Citizens are being shown they can’t keep building homes on islands and near lowlands and coastlines, especially in vulnerable areas where it no longer makes sense to rebuild offshore barriers. In countries like Britain, “a national debate is just starting about what is an appropriate policy of adaptation to climate change. People are just beginning to realize the risks of global warming and the big lifestyle changes that may be needed to brace for them.” Late last year, a new law took effect in England and Wales whereby the government decides whether it makes sense, economically and environmentally, to rebuild barriers. “Basically, whatever we do to reduce greenhouse emissions we’re going to face about one meter (3.3 feet) sea level rise on the east coast of England in the next 100 years. Either we won’t be able to defend part of the coast, or it will be too expensive to do it. One of the most troubling issues for us is to decide where we can no longer sustain coastal defense, where we basically need to warn people to retreat.”. Happisburgh, on the East Anglia coast, has always been vulnerable, and accounts of houses, lighthouses or farmland collapsing into the sea date back to the early 19th century. “But the rate of erosion there now is phenomenal, in excess of 10 meters (33 feet) a year, because of sea level rise, the collapse of its offshore barrier and the fact that southeastern England is sinking.” Sea levels are now rising about 3 millimeters a year in that area, increasing to as much as 10 millimeters a year because of global warming. A millimeter is about the thickness of a paper clip. “These areas were previously defended, but the government is now making it clear for the first time that while it will not let economically important areas such as London flood, it will no longer defend relatively low-value areas such as Happisburgh village, where the rate of erosion will continue to increase.” Since 1990, when Happisburgh’s offshore wooden barrier began to break apart, exposing its soft cliffs to pounding from the North Sea, about 25 bungalows have been lost to erosion in the picturesque village of 850 people.
GIBRALTAR – A refrigerator ship ran aground on a Spanish beach in stormy seas, spilling engine fuel over protected coasts near Gibraltar. The ship Sierra Nava was anchored in Gibraltar Bay when strong winds blew it onto a beach just south of Algeciras, a port across the bay from the British colony. A coastguard helicopter rescued the crew of 14.
The stormy weather also caused problems in the Axarquía district of Spain, especially in some of the coastal villages. Reports said houses in Mezquitilla were being battered by waves from the heavy seas, which even crossed the N-340 coastal road at times. Lagos was similarly affected, and there was flooding near the sea front in Torre del Mar. The beaches in Chilches have ‘disappeared.’
AUSTRALIA - 1/20 – Anglers competing in a beach fishing event got a little more than they bargained for when a king tide buried their vehicles and left them stranded in sand dunes. At least 20 four-wheel drives were left buried to the roof line in sand, near Kingston in South Australia’s southeast, after the tide caught their owners by surprise. “This king tide was a little bit bigger than normal.”
BIG WAVES -
Two U.S. sailors died December 29 when waves knocked them from the deck of a nuclear submarine off the coast of southwestern England. Four men were working on the outer casing of the USS Minneapolis-St. Paul in bad weather when they were thrown off the deck. The men were in safety harnesses, but could not hoist themselves back on the deck of the 110-metre submarine. “They were tied on but getting battered about by the weather.” A helicopter, tug boat and lifeboat were used to rescue the men. Two were having trouble breathing when they were found and were given CPR, but later died. The two other sailors were injured.
CANADA – A man and his daughter are feared drowned after a Christmas Eve stroll by the banks of a river west of Quebec City turned tragic.
HAWAII – a RARE winter south swell – The surf should start building sometime last night or early today and may reach advisory levels. Wave faces are expected to be in the 5- to 7-foot range with the possibility of occasional 8-foot sets at the height of the swell. The waves should peak tomorrow afternoon and slowly decrease through Wednesday. But another smaller swell may come in Thursday into the weekend. If the swell arrives as expected, it will mark just the fourth time since 1980 for winter surf on south shores. Similar south swells also have happened in 1993 and 2004. “It’s UNUSUAL in December, it’s more usual for our early south swells to appear around March or February instead of right in the middle of winter.” And mother nature is not leaving out the north and east shores. A northwest swell could come in Tuesday night and strong tradewinds are bringing a wind swell to east shores, prompting a high-surf advisory.
MASSACHUSETTS – A U.S. Coast Guard air search for a 25-year-old Canadian woman who was swept over the side of a Nova Scotia-based tall ship off the U.S. coast was called off Saturday night as darkness set in over the mid-Atlantic. A rogue wave washed over the ship Friday night and pulled the woman into the water about 760 kilometres southeast of Cape Cod, Mass. The woman, who has some experience on boats, was on a shelter deck in the rear of the vessel, which is considered a safe area, so she was not wearing a life jacket.
IRELAND – A man died after being washed into the sea in Ardglass, Co Down, on Saturday night. He was walking along the pier at Ardglass harbour when a high wave struck him and carried him into the sea.
Weeks through 11/29 -
UNITED KINGDOM – Important freshwater wildlife areas along the East Anglian coast were still under saltwater November 30 and vulnerable to further surges from the North Sea after suffering the WORST DAMAGE IN 20 YEARS. The Environment Agency estimates that tens of thousands of fish have died as the result of the sea breaking through natural defences and flooding freshwater areas. Dingle Marshes, an important freshwater nature reserve, has been left flooded with saltwater and exposed to the sea after about three quarters of a mile of its protective shingle bank was eroded by a stormy tidal surge on Wednesday morning, 11/29. The sea also broke through the dunes protecting part of the internationally important Minsmere bird reserve although a secondary, inner sea defence was not breached and saltwater did not get into sensitive areas. Saltwater was driven up the river system by a combination of a surge tide and strong north-westerly winds.
FREAK WAVES -
NEW ZEALAND – Two people had a lucky escape when they were washed out to sea from the mouth of the Rakaia River, 12/1. The young couple were in the water, whitebaiting, when a ROGUE WAVE swept them off their feet and dragged them out to sea. “Both of them were in the water and thank God there was someone there with a boat.”
SOUTH KOREA – Mayor missing in FREAK WAVE incident – The Haeyeong, a Moseulpo-registered fishing boat, sank between 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. on November 25 with seven people, including Seogwipo Mayor Lee Yeong-du, on board. Of those on board, 2 were rescued by the coast guard and a nearby boat. The Haeyeong lost contact after requesting to have two fisherboats sent out when large waves appeared while it was returning from yellowtail fishing around 1:00 p.m. “Three enormous waves overtook the boat and the boat filled up with water and sank.” There were no special weather reports for the area that day, but freak waves four to six meters high suddenly appeared in the area of the accident.
HAWAII – Two visitors drowned November 17th after being swept off the rocks at a hazardous area known as Olivine Pools northwest of Kahakuloa in Maui. Witnesses told authorities a wave knocked a man into the water at around 12:50 p.m. As the woman with him was screaming for him, she was pulled into the ocean. It’s a very dangerous place. Its water rises and recedes quickly, so it can be really calm and all of a sudden a FREAK set comes in and if you’re standing on the edge of the rocks, the waves will come up and grab you, and there’s nothing you can do but swim out away from the shore.” In April 2004, a 41-year-old California man and his 14-year-old daughter were swept into the sea at Olivine Pools. The girl survived but her father died.
FLORIDA – Two fishermen stranded at sea spent 30-harrowing hours at sea and a dramatic Coast Guard Rescue on November 16th. They were in a 35-foot fishing boat heading from home to New Smyrna Beach. When storms blew over them Wednesday night, they anchored about 30-miles off the Daytona shore. At first light Friday, they were still waiting out 8-foot swells. That’s when a FREAK WAVE knocked the 35-foot fishing boat onto its side. Within minutes, the boat was sinking to the ocean floor, leaving them fighting for their lives. In the heavy swells, the men swam to a large fish box that had broken free from the boat. It was floating –filled with hundreds of fish and tons of ice. They methodically emptied the box and crawled in, but not before one of them spotted the boats emergency locator beacon in the water nearby. He swam to the device, which ultimately saved their lives. “And it was rough. we were in a white box. It’s hard to spot out there. It just looks like another top of a wave. One more day – we wouldn’t be here. It was too close. Too close!”
SOUTH CAROLINA – a commercial fisherman, decided to ride out November 14th’s early morning storm at sea. His fishing vessel spent the rest of the day limping back to shore. He heard the Coast Guard’s radio warnings on Wednesday about high seas and strong winds. But the commercial snapper fisherman needed a bigger catch, so he dropped anchor about 50 miles southeast of Charleston and hunkered down for the night. Waves of 12 to 14 feet and winds between 23 and 46 mph pounded at his boat, but it held its own until about 3 a.m. Thursday. Suddenly, a FREAK WAVE about 18 feet tall crashed over the bow, smashing out the windows of the cabin and knocking out the navigational system, although not the VHF radio. He knew, essentially, where he was, but he couldn’t give the Coast Guard coordinates. Coast Guard officials said it wasn’t long before he starting taking on water as waves tumbled over the sides of the boat. But its bilge pumps were not functioning. Rescue workers launched a Coast Guard helicopter, which located the troubled vessel at about 5 a.m. and lowered a pump to control the flooding. Once the boat was stable, the Coast Guard cutter Yellowfin met up with it for a painstakingly slow voyage back to shore on a choppy sea.
SCOTLAND – Two crewmen onboard an oil tanker were killed and another seriously injured after being hit by a wave that came over the bow off the coast of northeast Scotland on November 11. There were westerly winds at the time of gale force eight (63-75 km/h) to storm force 10 (88-102 km/h) and a four- to five-metre swell. The wave was described as a FREAK 100 ft.
UNITED KINGDOM – An angler was feared dead after he was washed out to sea by a FREAK WAVE November 1st. He was walking with a friend along Kessingland beach, near Lowestoft, at 6.55am when he was knocked off his feet by a wave and dragged out to sea. Lifeboat teams searching for the man described horrendous conditions, including 15ft-high waves breaking around them.
SOUTH AFRICA – FREAK waves recorded often off Wild Coast. A Mossel Bay skipper has told how, after running into a violent storm, he had to slowly guide his crippled fishing vessel back home in high seas and howling winds gusting up to 85km/h off the Southern Cape coast, unaware of a full-scale search operation that had been launched for him and his crew of seven. In the sea drama, the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre had feared the worst for the catamaran deck-boat, Abalone, and its crew when they couldn’t make any contact with the vessel. But eventually it was spotted from the air, limping back to Mossel Bay after communications and one engine had been taken out by the giant waves on October 23rd.
A wave typically achieves rogue status not by growing to a certain minimum size but by exceeding the surrounding waves by a certain proportion. Many scientists define a wave as a rogue if it’s 2.2 times as tall as the significant wave height. Besides their size, rogue waves differ from their tamer kin in their shape. The peaks and troughs of ripples that spread from a gentle disturbance in the water have the approximate shape of a smoothly curving sine wave. But the larger an ocean wave is, the more its profile diverges from a sine wave. And rogue waves take these shape changes to the extreme. Their crests are often described as “mountains of water” and their troughs as “holes in the sea”. When a ship drops into the trough in front of a rogue wave, “it’s like riding a down elevator.” Scientists underestimated the frequency of rogue waves for many years. The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts is now issuing rogue-wave forecasts on an experimental basis. The forecasters issue a warning for an area when one wave out of every 3,000 there is likely to be a rogue.
GIANT WAVES -
PHILIPPINES – Strong winds and giant waves, boosted by a southwest monsoon, wiped out hundreds of shacks on stilts and left thousands of people homeless in the southern Philippines. The stormy weather was not related to the super typhoon churning towards China’s southeast coast on Thursday. An undetermined number of people were missing after giant waves swept four coastal villages out to sea. Many people survived because most of the homes belonged to the Badjao tribe, strong swimmers famed for their skill in diving for pearls. “It’s like a thief in the night. Most of the people were caught by surprise as winds and waves ate their homes before dawn.”
EXTREMELY LOW TIDE -
AUSTRALIA – Shallow corals in a large network of the Great Barrier Reef have been destroyed by a FREAKISHLY-TIMED rainstorm. All the shallow water corals around central Queensland’s Keppel Islands died when a patchy rainstorm drenched them on November 4. The corals were exposed because of an EXTREMELY LOW TIDE. The Keppel Islands is made up of a group of continental islands that lie within Keppel Bay, adjacent to the Capricorn Coast. The storm had killed off a number of reef flats within the islands up to 2km long and 300m wide. “Corals usually live in very salty water of course and they don’t handle reduced salinity very well at all. In this case the corals were exposed to extreme low tides during the middle of the night and were already exposed to the air. This rainstorm didn’t have a lot of rain in it, but enough for them to be sitting in pure fresh water. Within eight hours those corals were already bleached white and within a few days they died.” Deeper water corals and corals that were not in the direct path of the storm survived. A similar disturbance last occurred in 1991, when the Fitzroy River doused Keppel Bay and its fringing reefs, causing mass destruction of corals within 4m of the surface. “You have to have the timing just right of the corals being exposed, and a rainstorm event coming over the top and lots of coral on the reef flat.” The incident follows a run of bad luck for the Keppel Islands this year. Just under half the region’s corals died in January and February in the WORST CORAL-BLEACHING EVENT ON RECORD for the Keppel Islands. It would take up to 15 years for the reef flat to return to normal, assuming there were no other disturbances. But he said that was unlikely given that Australia was in an El Nino cycle, which causes unpredictable weather and heatwaves. “We now have added pressure of climate change and unusually warm summers, so we are sort of waiting with bated breath as to what this summer is going to deliver.”
Week through 11/2 -
FREAK WAVES -
UNITED KINGDOM – A car was spun full-circle after being struck by a giant, FREAK wave on Marine Drive on November 1. Parts of Scarborough were also hit by flooding during torrential downpours and gale-force winds which lashed the East Coast. More than £45 million was spent over a three-year period carrying out a major sea defences scheme which included putting rock armour and accropodes into the sea off Marine Drive. “It has been one of the roughest days of the year so far with strong winds and high waves. The sea defences do their job but, unfortunately, some really high waves can creep over. Without the walls we would have to have teams out continually and it would have been a nightmare.” “The waves were particularly aggressive but, thankfully, the defences were doing their job. Without the defences it would have been considerably worse.” The car was hit at 9:45am when it spun around 360 degrees. Its passengers were shocked but uninjured while the vehicle itself was slightly damaged.
An angler is feared dead after he was washed out to sea by a FREAK wave as floods battered the region on November 1. The man, aged in his 40s was walking with a friend along Kessingland beach, near Lowestoft, at 6:55am when he was knocked off his feet by a wave and dragged out to sea. Lifeboat teams searching for the man described horrendous conditions, including 15ft high waves breaking around them. The waves were rolling 20ft to 30ft closer than normal, with high tides and strong winds. It was severe weather.
HIGH TIDES -
UNITED KINGDOM – Serious flooding around Yarmouth was narrowly averted Halloween night after reportedly the HIGHEST TIDE FOR MORE THAN 10 YEARS. However, a major road was blocked and many parts of the region were flooded after a combination of strong wings and high tides battered the area. The unexpectedly high tide was caused by severe gales driving a surge of water down the North Sea more than 1.75m above the norm. Brundall suffered reportedly the WORST FLOODING FOR SEVERAL DECADES with more than 30 businesses, chalets and cars affected. “This is the highest we have seen it for 40 years.”
SCOTLAND – New flood-risk maps of Scotland show storm water covering Edinburgh’s multimillion-pound waterfront development, parts of Glasgow city centre and other major urban areas. About 160,000 homes and 13,000 businesses in Scotland are thought to be at risk of flooding and the problem is set to get worse, with sea levels rising and river flows increasing by 60 to 90 per cent in many parts of the country over the past 40 years.
INDIA – For the past two decades, Arjun Jana has lived the life of an “environmental refugee” in Sagar island. He was forced to leave home in Lohachara island, one of the many islets on the Sundarban delta, when the surging sea waters swamped his farmland. Now 75, Jana’s migration to Sagar brought him to safer land. But it also made him poorer for the rest of his life. There’s no old-age allowance from the local administration for either Jana or his wife. And apart from a piece of land allotted to him years ago, and his thatched hut, the couple has nothing that they can call “ours”. “The sea had been eating away our island with every passing day. And then, one day, it engulfed everything that had remained untouched till then — our home, fields, the cattle… everything.” Sagar Colony, Bankim Nagar, Chakhaldubi — these are now home to most of these migrants. Farmers once, they are now petty labours, devoid of any civic amenity. Even drinking water is precious in these refugee colonies. Lack of opportunities, growing population and a consistent encroachment of the island by outsiders to set up hotels has meant further pressure. But what’s even more worrying is the unseen threat — ingression of salt waters that is slowly breaking down a dozen islands in the region. Sagar is one of them. “Their islands have vanished. There are many more, thousands of people, who will turn into environmental refugees in the next decade. Where will they all go when more islands go under water? To Sagar? To Kolkata? Nobody seems to have a solution.”
Week through 10/26 -
FREAK WAVES -
CRETE – The Greek Government declared a state of emergency on the islands of Crete, Leros and Astypalaia with winds reaching gale-force 10 in parts of the Aegean Sea. Many Greek islands had to be cut-off with coastguards ordering ships to stay in port and airlines cancelling flights. The FREAK conditions have been blamed on global warming altering weather patterns in the region. A grieving family has paid tribute to their loving parents after they were swept to their deaths by a FREAK wave while on holiday in Crete. They died after they were caught by a six-foot wave on the Greek tourist island of Rhodes. It happened as storms battered a series of islands in the area. They were caught by the wave as they paddled in the sea after a meal. Eye-witnesses said the couple were washed ashore by two-metre high waves amid desperate attempts to save them. Another man also died in the storms lashing the Greek islands. The 54-year-old drowned when his car was washed away into a river on Crete.
CALIFORNIA – A 21 woman drowned when she tried to save her friend’s four-year-old daughter after a sleeper wave swept the youngster out to sea off the coast of Orick north of Arcata. The child’s mother also tried in vain to rescue her daughter but was able to make it back to the beach. The three had been on a camping trip on the north coast. On their way south, they stopped at Freshwater Lagoon Beach north of Arcata. Around 11:30.a.m. Sunday, as the girl played on the sand, a sleeper wave broke on the shore and swept her out to sea. When the 21 year-old jumped in to try and save her, she too was pulled out to sea by the strong current. Sleeper or rogue waves, which unexpectedly break deeper into the shore creating a strong current, are common on parts of the Northern California shoreline. The beach area where the drowning happened is posted with signs warning of dangerous waves, currents and undertow. A similar double drowning happened at the same beach in January 2004. Back then, a sleeper wave grabbed an eight-year-old boy. His uncle tried to save him. Both drowned.
Week through 10/12 -
HIGH TIDES -
Stronger king tides have exposed a need for better coastal protection and long-term planning to potentially move half the 4000 people living on the Torres Strait near Australia. “About 60,000 to 90,000 people from the Pacific islands may be exposed to flooding from sea-level rise each year by the 2050s” and may be seeking refuge on the Australian mainland. Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, China and small Pacific islands would be the worst affected and Australia would be looked to for leadership.
CANADA – Tuk, as it’s commonly known, has the distinction of being one of the Canadian communities most threatened by the climate change already transforming Canada’s North. It is eating away at the region’s buildings, roads and runways, and damaging the fundamentals of entire communities and ecosystems. The northwest wind has picked up, sending waves crashing on to the gravel spit that helps protect this remote community on the edge of the Arctic Ocean. The Beaufort Sea is fast eroding the spits and islands protecting Tuktoyaktuk and its harbour. There is a threat of four-foot waves rolling into town. Much of Tuktoyaktuk already floods in severe storms. Storm surges can raise sea level here more than two metres in a matter of hours.
FREAK WAVES -
AUSTRALIA – One man drowned and two others were rescued when their 5.5m boat capsized after being hit by a FREAK wave 1.5km off the coast.
SOUTH AFRICA – A British tourist has been killed by a FREAK wave while horse riding in South Africa. She was washed out to sea and drowned after the huge 15ft wave crashed over her and two companions on a remote coast near Queenstown, in the Eastern Cape. They were crossing a fast-flowing river swollen from rain when her horse lost its footing.
CANARY ISLANDS – A 50-year-old German holidaymaker drowned in La Gomera when a FREAK wave washed her into the sea. The accident occurred shortly before midday in Hermigua’s Santa Catalina beach.
CANARY ISLANDS – last week a 38-year-old Guardia Civil from north Tenerife lost his life while searching for evidence of what could be the wreck of the Mencey Taoro II, the Puerto de la Cruz boat which went missing while on a fishing trip in July. The accident occurred as the inflatable launch which was carrying six divers from the Guardia Civil approached the inshore waters of Playa Negra off Valle Gran Rey. A FREAK wave capsized the boat, tipping all on board into the broiling sea and washing them into nearby rocks.
Week through 9/28 -
FREAK WAVES -
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago – A FREAK accident on a pirogue off the shores of Chatham beach resulted in the death of a 21-year-old fisherman on Thursday morning, 9/28. The fisherman was aboard a pirogue in company with another fisherman when he struck his head against the boat which was rocking violently after being buffeted by large waves. As the dazed man tried to keep his balance, another wave swept over the pirogue slamming him into the bow of the boat and he fell into the sea.
UNITED KINGDOM – A jet-skier was killed after he was knocked off his machine by a huge wave off the North Wales coast. Two other jet-skiers were also caught up in the same incident. “It became apparent that one of the men had sustained serious injuries after banging his head on the jet-ski after being thrown off it.”
MAINE – The Maine Marine Patrol called off its search for a missing lobsterman who disappeared Wednesday, 9/13, when his boat capsized after being hit by a rogue wave. The boat was struck by a rogue wave that might have been kicked up by the remnants of Hurricane Florence. “Waves breaking on one side of us, no waves on the other – we thought we were really safe…Never, ever would think that this would happen. This was a freak accident that just couldn’t be avoided.”
Week through 9/7 -
HIGH TIDES -
UNITED KINGDOM – Tides around Ulster could rise to EXCEPTIONALLY HIGH levels over the next few days thanks to a RARE lunar phenomenon. A ‘perigee’ – when the Moon is at the closest point of its orbit to Earth – is expected early Friday, September 8th, and will combine with a full moon to produce tides which some experts believe could be much higher than normal. The combination of the perigee and a full moon occurs only once every year or two, but experts believe it could see rises of up to 15cm in tide levels. Flood risk rises if higher tides combine with poor weather. There will also be a lunar eclipse that evening at 8pm, when around 20% of the Moon goes into shadow on the eastern horizon.
IRELAND is bracing itself for its HIGHEST TIDES IN MORE THAN 25 YEARS that could cause wide-spread flooding if combined with stormy weather. This year’s particularly strong tides are the result of the combination of strong Equinox spring tides – tides with the greatest difference between high and low water which occur twice a year – and an 18.6-year “nodal cycle” linked to the tilt of the moon and the elliptic nature of its orbit around the earth. Ireland would experience a period of unusually high tidal ranges, with the tides reaching their highest levels around Sept. 9, Oct. 8 and Nov. 6. In neighbouring Britain, a series of abnormally high tides are forecast for mid-September and mid-October.
FREAK WAVES -
AUSTRALIA – The captain of a Japanese tuna fishing boat has been killed by a FREAK wave in international waters off the West Australian coast. The 53-year-old captain and three crew members were thrown against the bulkhead of the 379 tonne tuna fishing boat, Hoshin Maru, when it was hit by a wave in the Southern Ocean. The incident happened on Monday, September 1 about 10pm.
Week through 8/31 -
HIGH TIDES -
AUSTRALIA – Plans to put lifeboats in new buildings on the Gold Coast to protect against tidal surges are premature, Premier Peter Beattie says. The Gold Coast Council has placed the extraordinary requirement on one high-rise project because of fears the “perfect storm” would create massive tidal surges. Councillors predict all new canal and beachfront developments will soon have to include lifeboats as part of compulsory flood evacuation plans.
Villagers on the South Pacific island of Tegua are packing up and leaving their homes for good – the first real victims of increasing sea levels caused by climate change. Even the village’s palm trees are dying, their roots washed away by inexorably rising seas. An unpleasant mold covers the ground of every dwelling as a result of frequent flooding. “At the end of the Eighties, our village was flooded for the first time. Nowadays it happens every other month.” The effects of climate change and rising sea levels can be seen on many islands in Vanuatu.
BRITAIN – Scientists are growing increasingly fearful that October will see floods that are UNPRECEDENTED in this country. A stretch of the east coast from Hull – where 25,000 people live on a tidal flood plain – down to the Thames Estuary, is on red alert for the high tides, the worst occurring on October 9. Meteorologists say any combination of the tides and bad weather will create a storm surge that promises havoc for low-lying towns and cities such as Portsmouth, Blackpool, Cardiff and Bristol. London is well protected with 30 major barriers including the Thames Barrier and hundreds of kilometres of walls and banks. Its defenses are designed to withstand a storm so severe it might only occur once in a thousand years.
FREAK WAVES -
RUSSIA – “Mini-tsunami” – A search operation continues at Dolzhanskaya Spit (Azov Sea Coast), where tourists were washed away by a surge the evening of the 29th. Dolzhanskaya Spit, which is one of the favorite resorts for residents of Krasnodar Territory and Rostov Region, was inundated. According to witnesses, six people were washed away by the surge. Yeisk Search and Rescue Unit of the emergency ministry managed to find five missing tourists at about 02:00 a.m. One is still missing. Dozens of cars with non-official holiday-makers were evacuated from the spit. Eleven people and their cars remained at the spit, as they refused to move away.
Week through 8/24 -
FREAK WAVES -
AUSTRALIA – Three men have been winched to safety after a fishing mishap at San Remo, near Phillip Island in Victoria. Police say the workmates were fishing at a cliff at the end of Punch Bowl Road when a FREAK wave hit them just before 9:00am AEST the morning of the 19th. One of the men was taken to hospital with a broken coccyx, a bone in the spinal column. The rescue was a difficult operation. “It’s not an easy place to get into. There’s definitely no way the survivors would have got out on foot. The tide was coming in – it was blocking off all access.”
ROGUE WAVES – As more data are collected, it appears that rogue waves occur multiple times in a given week somewhere in the world. Sites where ordinary waves encounter ocean currents and eddies can concentrate wave energy in a small area, such as where the Gulf Stream interacts with waves coming in from the Labrador Sea in the northern Atlantic Ocean between eastern Canada and southwest Greenland. Unfortunately, satellite research shows that rogue waves also occur in areas that are not affected by currents, geographical formations or weather. Such “random” rogue waves are more problematic because they are unpredictable. Wave mathematicians are delving into nonlinear quantum mechanics for solutions to model how some waves steal energy from neighboring waves to grow into “holes” and steep rogue waves.
Week through 8/17 -
HIGH TIDES -
AUSTRALIA – king tides of up to 2.3m have eroded many beaches along Queensland’s coast in the past fortnight. Dangerous, unstable dunes were probably to blame for the tragic sand collapse in which a boy died and his 13-year-old brother was trapped for more than an hour after a wall of sand fell on them as they dug holes at the Agnes Water beach in the town of 1770. “Our reports say there was a sand washout, caused by king tides.” The recent erosion was THE WORST THEY HAD SEEN IN YEARS, with Gold Coast beaches left with sand cliffs up to 3m high. “It would be one of the worst (cases of erosion) we’ve seen for some time. When beaches suffer erosion on this scale, the area is left with steep and often high cliff-like faces on the sand.”
Torres Strait – With rising seas swamping the graves of their forebears, Torres Strait Islanders face an uncertain future. Over the past two years, half of the populated islands of the Torres Strait in far north Queensland have been hit by unprecedented flooding from surging king tides. The islanders can’t prove that climate change is to blame for the tidal flooding or inexplicable shifts in the weather, but elders are baffled by what they are seeing. “About 60,000 to 90,000 people from the Pacific islands may be exposed to flooding from sea-level rise each year by the 2050s. This would place pressure internally on these countries and on surrounding nations (such as New Zealand and Australia) to help sustain communities or to consider emergency immigrants.
On most of the low-lying Torres Strait islands, even elders agree that the recent flooding from king tides is THE WORST THEY HAVE SEEN. But on Saibai, which mostly lies only a metre above sea level, they have seen tidal flooding this bad once before, in 1948 – and it was enough to drive hundreds of people to resettle on the mainland. Today, the 379 people who remain are not just afraid that history is repeating, but that it is getting worse. Even after a long sea wall was built along the waterfront, which overlooks Papua New Guinea’s southern hills, Saibai’s streets have been repeatedly washed out, most recently in February – sometimes in water so deep that people rowed dinghies into the village.
UNITED KINGDOM – Could the flood of 1953 happen again? A freak combination of weather and tidal conditions could result in thousands of people being flooded out of their homes next month. Experts have warned that tides could rise 10ft above normal levels, a height not seen since the great flood of 1953 and told families to start taking precautions. Thousands of people are being warned to brace themselves for the WORST FLOODS TO HIT NORFOLK FOR DECADES. A combination of low pressure and high winds could cause tide levels to rise dramatically during the next two months – and leave a massive area from the Norfolk coast as far inland as to Norwich underwater, echoing the Great Flood of 1953. Families living on the coast have been warned they might have to evacuate their homes with as little as nine hours’ notice. “The spring tides we’ve got predicted for September and October for the whole of the east coast are higher than anything we’ve had for 25 years.” The high tides will be caused by the alignment of the Earth, the moon and sun during the autumn equinox, between September 7 and 13 and October 6 and 11.
BANGLADESH – A storm in the Bay of Bengal sank seven fishing boats and at least 60 Bangladeshi fishermen were missing. The storm on the 12th also triggered a meter high WATER SURGE, washing away some houses and shops on the island of Saint Martin, about 500km southeast of the capital Dhaka. Some 500 people were stranded at Kuakata beach town, 400km south of Dhaka, after the sea surge damaged road bridges. The Meteorological department said the sea would remain rough for days due to a monsoonal depression, which may cause some rain across the country.
FREAK WAVES -
SPAIN – The inauguration of the 950 ton replica of the ‘Santísima Trinidad’ sailing boat was suspended in Málaga over the weekend after a worker in his 40’s on the boat fell from a ramp to his death. Two others were slightly injured in the accident which happened as the boat was hit by a FREAK large wave. The accident happened on Saturday, August 12. Three million € has been spent on the replica of the 18th century 70m long vessel, and it will now open as restaurant and café at a later date, still to be announced. Following the accident it has also been decided to move the vessel to another part of Málaga port, where such freak waves are less likely to hit the ship.
UNITED KINGDOM – A father and son needed rescuing by coastguards and lifeboatmen this weekend after a FREAK wave and high winds grounded their cruiser in water close to Yarmouth. The pair had just bought the boat and were on their maiden voyage on Saturday afternoon, August 12, when they were caught in strong winds and driving rain while sailing through Breydon Water. Rescue efforts were hampered by extremely poor conditions – with winds reaching 50mph and strong rain impairing visibility.
UNITED KINGDOM – A yachtsman died and two others narrowly escaped with their lives after their boat was hit by a massive FREAK wave and they were swept overboard in a North Sea gale. The lifeboatman said it had been the WORST CONDITION HE HAD SEEN IN AUGUST in his 20 years as a lifeboatman, with winds up to a force nine gale. “We had five to seven metre seas, poor visibility and rain – the sort of stuff you’d expect in January or February.”
Week through 8/10 -
HIGH TIDES -
BRITAIN – The British government has begun warning people living on the eastern coast to prepare for flooding that RECORD HIGH TIDES could bring in coming weeks. During September and October, the HIGHEST TIDES IN 20 YEARS are expected in the East Anglia region, which is north of London along England`s coast. Already, the Environment Agency has begun notifying coastal residents to be prepared to evacuate as tides 10 feet above normal begin battering the coast. Such tidal and flooding conditions in 1953 killed 300 people, damaged 24,000 homes and flooded 180,000 acres of land. It happened again in 1978 but, because of lessons learned after 1953, there were no deaths.
BRITAIN – Flooding alert over 3m-high tides – The HIGHEST TIDES FOR THE NEXT TEN YEARS are expected to hit the region’s coastline this weekend – putting homes at risk of flooding. The Environment Agency issued an alert for the North-East and Yorkshire, which could see tides more than three metres high. It also warned that many people living in vulnerable spots had failed to sign up for advance flood warnings. The high tides are forecast from today to Sunday, as well as September 9 to 11 and October 7 to 10. Officials said they could reach 3.08 metres high in coastal towns such as North Shields and Whitby. “These tides are not predicted to be as high again until 2015.”
BRITAIN – Children rescued from tides – Coastguards rescued about 20 children from two different stretches of the north Norfolk coastline last night after the youngsters became stranded with water up to their necks as the tide came in. Six children were trapped on a sandbank at Scolt Head, in Brancaster Bay, while 13 others were snared on a similar bank close to Wells harbour as water rushed in soon after 4pm. It follows a similar incident on Sunday when 30 people were dragged under the water in Bacton, also on the north Norfolk coast, after being caught in a freak riptide. An eyewitness described how the groups made two attempts to cross the fast-rising water back to the shore but returned quickly to the sandbank they were stranded on. By the time they were rescued, at 5.10pm, the water was up to their necks. Sirens on both beaches should have alerted the groups of the impending change in tide but that it could have been drowned out if the wind was blowing the wrong way and that the holidaymakers might not have known what the noise signified.
BRITAIN – Almost 30 people were dragged out to sea by a FREAK TIDE at Bacton near Cromer on Saturday, August 5. Holidaymakers enjoying the north Norfolk beach watched in horror as person after person was pulled under the waves by a rip tide, as they tried to rescue two children. At one stage witnesses described seeing a jumble of up to 30 bodies struggling against the treacherous current. A spokeswoman for Yarmouth Coastguard said the people involved were incredibly lucky to be alive. The chaos started after two children playing in the sea near the groynes suddenly disappeared. Seconds later their mother, who ran to the shoreline to help them, was also sucked under the water. Within minutes, witnesses claimed 20 to 30 people who had run to help the family had themselves been dragged in to the sea by the freak tide.
AUSTRALIA – King tides expected to add to beach scarps – High tides and heavy swells have carved sand cliffs up to two metres tall along Gold Coast beaches. Thursday’s king tide (8/10) of just over 1.8 metres around 9:00pm AEST was expected to add to the problem. “We have been in there working on the accesses, trying to ensure they are OK for everybody and knocking down the largest scarps. With the high tides that we have I suppose we can expect a bit more trouble for the next couple of days.”
FREAK WAVES -
NIGERIA – Three South Africans were fishing inside a protected harbour wall at Lagos, Nigeria when they were capsized by a FREAK WAVE on Sunday, July 30. The incident claimed the life of one. One had his shoulder dislocated and he also sustained serious injuries to the tendons and muscles in his shoulder and arm, when a boat hit him during the rescue operation. It could take up to a year for him to regain the full use of his right arm. It is a miracle that he survived, as he had stopped breathing by the time a rescuer pulled him out of the water. The incident on July 30 happened at about 11:45 on an overcast day. The friends had returned to catch yellowtail at the mouth of the harbour as the tide was going out. As the Nigerian skipper was turning his boat, a massive wave broke upon them. One man was then pulled under for so long, that he had no breath left. The force of the breaking wave ripped most of his clothing from his body, including his shoes. Another huge wave of about four to five meters hit him, followed by one successive wave after the other. He ended up swimming out to sea to escape the shoreline rocks. He was eventually picked up by another boat.
PHILIPPINES – Strong winds and GIANT WAVES, boosted by a southwest monsoon, wiped out hundreds of shacks on stilts and left thousands of people homeless in the southern Philippines. An undetermined number of people were missing after giant waves swept four coastal villages out to sea. Many people survived because most of the homes belonged to the Badjao tribe, strong swimmers famed for their skill in diving for pearls. “It’s like a thief in the night. Most of the people were caught by surprise as winds and waves ate their homes before dawn.” The stormy weather was not related to the super typhoon churning towards China’s southeast coast on Thursday, August 9th.
GIANT WAVES -
PHILIPPINES – Strong winds and giant waves, boosted by a southwest monsoon, wiped out hundreds of shacks on stilts and left thousands of people homeless in the southern Philippines. The stormy weather was not related to the super typhoon churning towards China’s southeast coast on Thursday. An undetermined number of people were missing after giant waves swept four coastal villages out to sea. Many people survived because most of the homes belonged to the Badjao tribe, strong swimmers famed for their skill in diving for pearls. “It’s like a thief in the night. Most of the people were caught by surprise as winds and waves ate their homes before dawn.”
Week through 7/27 -
FREAK WAVES -
SOUTH AFRICA – A 60-year-old grandfather was swept off the Kalk Bay harbour wall at the weekend while fishing, and he made a dramatic effort to save his grandson and son-in-law from a freak, giant wave, pushing them behind a small lighthouse before he was overcome by the force of the wave. But he wasn’t in the water for long when he managed to make it to the shore despite not having had a swim in 40 years. It was the second such incident in less than a year. Two men nearly drowned when they were swept off the wall at the same spot in September 2005.
UNITED KINGDOM – More than 80 sailors had to be rescued from the sea following a FREAK storm which capsized all their crafts. The yachtsman had been competing in a race along the Hunstanton coast on Saturday, July 22, at about 5pm when high winds and a small tornado hit them. All 82 competitors were thrown into the sea as the high winds continued, along with crashing waves – some reported to be as high as 6ft. “There had been no winds at all, then suddenly there was this mini tornado and water spouts in the sea…It just tipped the boats over like a deck of cards…We have never known anything like it before – it was a totally FREAK situation.”
UNITED KINGDOM – Tragically, at least 20 children died in accidents on the coast during 2005 including drownings either from having been swept out to sea from rocks or the beach by freak waves or caught in strong currents or being cut off by the tide. Other incidents ending in tragedy involved jumping off high rocks, cliffs and piers and being buried by collapsing sand when digging on the beach.
ROGUE WAVES AT SEA – Drawing on recent tallies and making tentative extrapolations, it’s estimated that at any given moment 10 of the giants are churning through the world’s oceans. In size and reach these waves are quite different from earthquake-induced tsunamis, which form low, almost invisible mounds at sea before gaining height while crashing ashore. Rogue waves seldom, if ever, prowl close to land. “We know these big waves cannot get into shallow water.” In the past two decades, freak waves are suspected of sinking dozens of big ships and taking hundreds of lives. By one definition, the titans of the sea rise to heights of at least 25 meters, or 82 feet, about the size of an eight-story building. Scientists have calculated their theoretical maximum at 198 feet. The big waves form with some regularity in regions swept by powerful currents: the Agulhas off South Africa, the Kuroshio off Japan, and the Gulf Stream off the eastern United States, which flows through the Bermuda Triangle.
An “armada” of 10,000 yellow plastic ducks is about to land in Britain after an incredible 14-year journey across the oceans. The bathtime toys fell off a container ship in the Pacific in 1992 and, after drifting thousands of miles, are due to start washing up on their shores soon. Scientists monitoring ocean debris say the duck armada has hit the Gulf Stream, which circulates warm water from the Caribbean to Britain, and is about to start drifting across the Atlantic. The ducks are expected to start bobbing up on the British coast some time in the next year. The ducks started their incredible journey from a factory in China, before they were loaded on to a ship heading out across the Pacific. In a freak storm in the middle of the huge ocean near the International Dateline, a giant container carrying 29,000 bath toys was washed overboard and broken open 4,000 miles into its journey to Tacoma, Washington state. During their first three years at sea the toys completed one 6,800-mile orbit of the Pacific Gyre, a current which circulates around the edge of the ocean – passing through the waters of Indonesia, Australasia, South America and Hawaii – at the rate of seven miles a day. It is thought that at one stage about 10,000 of the ducks were thrown out of the circuit at its northernmost limit and in 1993 were sucked into the Bering Straits between Russia and the US. There they became frozen in ice floes and slowly journeyed 2,000 miles to the North Pole, and then 4,000 miles south again to Nova Scotia on the other side of the US. As the ice began to thaw the ducks floated 2,000 miles down the eastern seaboard of the US. They are now headed south and when they hit the Gulf Stream they will float another 3,000 miles across the Atlantic to Britain. When they arrive, their total journey will have been 21,800 miles. The remaining ducks – and their travelling companions, including plastic frogs, turtles and beavers – which stayed in the Pacific currents will have completed five circuits of the ocean and racked up a mileage of over 30,000. The ducks have enabled scientists to study how ocean currents work and how the polar ice caps are formed and melt.
UNITED KINGDOM – An investigation has been launched into what caused the giant wave which terrorised sunbathers and swimmers at Southsea beach on Saturday, July 1st. A four-year-old girl was among four people reported injured when the wave struck, leaving amazed swimmers and sunbathers screaming in fear. ‘The wave was apparently six metres high.’ ‘I have been going to the beach for 40 years and have never seen anything like it.’
Week through 6/23 -
FREAK WAVES -
CENTRAL AMERICA – Massive waves caused by a storm more than 3,000 kilometres away have washed away homes, hotels and restaurants along the coastline of Central America on the 20th. There have been no reports of death, but hundreds of people have fled from their homes and communities. The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said the waves are not caused by a tsunami from underwater earthquakes, but are from a large storm in the South Pacific. Large waves have been pounding the coastline from Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands to the Mexican resort of Acapulco for several days. In Guatemala, waves along the western shore smashed a small hotel in Sipacate, a surfing hotspot about 100 kilometres from Guatemala City. High waves drove water about 90 metres inland in Nicaragua, washing away about 20 homes in Peurto Corinto. Dozens of people fled their homes in El Salvador, where witnesses reported high waves, while a number of coastal areas of Costa Rica reported flooding. Weather officials said the waves should subside the 21st or 22nd.
Heavy surf is pounding the Pacific Coast from Chile to California – A FREAKISHLY POWERFUL storm far off in the South Pacific propelled huge swells to the Americas, causing a surge of waves that battered homes and beachfront businesses from Peru to Mexico. Several hundred people were evacuated in at least eight countries. The barrage began Sunday, and the waves were beginning to weaken Tuesday afternoon. The waves resulted from a particularly intense low pressure system several hundred miles off New Zealand that caused hurricane force winds and RARE snowfall at sea level. Masses of water were shoved eastward, creating UNUSUALLY big waves when the swells hit the Americas. “The storm system that generated these waves was FAIRLY EXTRAORDINARY. ” Over the weekend, heavy surf wrecked 15 homes in a shantytown in Lima’s port of Callao and damaged about 100 in the northern coast city of Trujillo. In Honduras, giant swells damaged at least 300 houses along the Gulf of Fonseca on Sunday.
COSTA RICA – Three students and a teacher were killed during an educational trip to Costa Rica on June 11. The 11 students on the trip had been spending the afternoon on the beach and swimming in the Pacific Ocean when a tidal wave came in and pulled them under the water. The teacher was on the beach at the time and instructed the students to get out of the water, but 2 couldn’t get out. The teacher went into the water to help the students, but became engulfed in the water himself. Another student, a licensed lifeguard, also tried to help the others, but drowned as well. The students described it as a perfect afternoon for swimming until an unexpected tidal wave came and continued to get worse. They were wading in water that came up to their chest, then the wave came in and they couldn’t touch bottom.
WALES – There have been a recent spate of sea deaths. Most recently four men, including two brothers out fishing, have died in separate incidents off the Welsh coast. The weather was poor, with wind about a force five, and waves reaching 12ft. The men are believed to have been swept away by tidal currents. Experts have warned about the dangers of sea fishing from the shore after the deaths. Many people did not realise tidal surges could send water high up onto rocks. “From what I understand, it may have been a FREAK WAVE that dragged the two brothers out into the sea.”
Week through 6/15 -
FREAK WAVES -
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO – Three fishermen survived but one died, following the onslaught of a tsunami-type wave in the Moruga Seas. The incident occurred in the early hours of June 8th. The fishermen had gone out in a 20-foot boat. Around 8am one happended to look up and saw a very huge wave about 15 feet high heading towards the boat. Before they could think what to do, the wave just slapped the boat, capsizing everything. They tried to swim ashore but the heavy current pulled them toward Venezuela’s waters. The wave took them to the Venezuelan coastline late Thursday night. The two survivors suffered burns from holding onto a gas tank to keep afloat.
Week through 6/8 -
FREAK WAVES -
HAWAII – Two boys swam for four hours toward shore after their 14-foot Boston Whaler sank before they were rescued by a passing ship. A “freak wave” filled the fishing boat despite calm conditions on Tuesday. Halfway through their swim to shore, one held onto his brother’s foot as he pulled him the rest of the way.
CALIFORNIA – A young man died Wednesday when a freak wave knocked him off his family’s sailboat near Point Reyes, Calif. Although he was wearing a life jacket, the sailboat’s engine and radio malfunctioned, delaying his rescue by Coast Guard helicopter for five hours. He died later at Stanford University Medical Center. The deadly trip was supposed to have been a post-graduation adventure, sailing on his father’s 29-foot sailboat “Fat Chance” from San Francisco to Vancouver.
ENGLAND – Seaside deaths soaring – coastguards have warned South Yorkshire holidaymakers to follow strict safety advice during the summer after the number of seaside deaths rocketed. “One of the biggest problems is children being swept out to sea on inflatables. One minute they can be in a few feet of water and within minutes can finds themselves a long way out. “We also have problems with people walking out to the sea and then getting caught out by the tide.” The advice is being issued after the coastguard recorded 2,514 cases where people needed rescuing last summer – an 18 per cent increase on the previous year. The number of people killed increased from 364 to 376, a rise of 19 per cent. At least 20 children died in accidents on the coast during 2005 after being swept out to sea or being dragged from rocks by freak waves.
AUSTRALIA – A massive ocean vortex discovered off the West Australian coast is acting as a “death trap” by sucking in huge amounts of fish larvae and could affect the surrounding climate. The vortex – 200km in diameter and 1000m deep – is spinning at speeds up to 5kph just off the Rottnest Canyon. The vortex, shaped like a giant child’s spinning top, was created by current movement down the coast and is one of the largest ever found off of WA. Visible from space, the vortex is acting as a “death trap” by sucking in fish larvae from closer to the shore. “It’s actually acting as a predator, it’s actually taking the fish larvae which need to stick around their natural habitat on the coast, and dragging them off to sea.” The climate above the vortex was noticeably different. “It feels like you’re in the tropics. It’s warm, soft, moist air, with flying fish, it’s a very different environment.” It could also potentially affect climate further afield. “The vortex is moving a large volume of a very warm current out back into cooler waters, so essentially it’s taking that heat and moving it away from the coast. So essentially that really changes the heat budget of our regional ocean and it’s the ocean that determines climate.” The vortex was unlikely to pose a danger to people sailing or diving in the area but the change was definitely noticeable. “We were in a 70-metre boat and you could immediately feel the shift in the ship’s tract, so you can certainly tell that there’s something UNUSUAL going on out there.”
WEEK of 5/25 -
FREAK WAVES -
UNITED KINGDOM – A 50ft wave caused by a force-9 gale left six people injured and the flagship damaged. A FREAK wave smashed into one of the world’s largest ferries in the Bay of Biscay, terrifying passengers and forcing the ship to divert to a French harbour. The wave, estimated at between 40ft (12m) and 50ft high, crashed into the Pont-Aven, the flagship of the Brittany Ferries fleet, at 10.25pm on Sunday, the 21st, smashing windows and injuring at least six people. Cabins more than 50ft above the waterline were flooded. Passengers described seeing a wall of water, followed by an explosion and then seeing people running around covered in blood after being hit by glass. The wave struck at the height of a Force 9 gale that had caused the cancellation of dozens of crossings in the Channel. The £100 million Pont-Aven, the largest and most modern vessel in the fleet, was being buffeted by heavy seas when the wave struck.
UNITED KINGDOM – A lucky Ulster sailor Sunday night, the 21st, spoke of his miracle escape after his boat was capsized and totally destroyed by a FREAK wave. The size and force of the unpredicted wave overturned the boat, trapping the man underneath the vessel. But within minutes he had managed to free himself, make his way to shore, clamber over rocks and drive home completely unscathed. “It was reasonably calm at the time but as he was pulling the [lobster] pot out he was hit by an unusually large wave.”
NEW ZEALAND – four people are missing in the freezing waters of Foveaux Strait. Three out of 9 in the boat have been rescued and two were found dead. It is thought a FREAK wave swamped their fishing boat causing the tragedy. It is reported that two children and a woman are among the missing, and they could all be from one local family. Search conditions overnight on the 13th were extremely tough with officials saying the chance of surviving very long in the freezing waters were slim.
WEEK of 4/27 -
TASMANIA – Three professional fishermen who drowned after their fishing boat was hit by a freak wave and sank off Tasmania’s south-east coast were wearing life jackets. Five people were aboard the boat which went down off Eaglehawk Neck on the Tasman Peninsula just after 1pm (AEST) on the 23rd. “It appears a fishing vessel was fishing in an area off Cape Pillar when it was struck by a number of freak waves which have broken over the stern of the boat. This has caused the boat to submerge and it subsequently sank.” The men clung to their submerged boat until it eventually sank. The three dead are believed to have died of hypothermia. The two survivors were lucky to be rescued by a passing ship with only minor injuries. The southwesterly swell was not considered extremely dangerous, and 46 other boats competed in the tuna competition without incident. “It was a freak wave. The wave came up from behind and dumped on to the back of the boat.” “It was a southwesterly. It was calm on shore but rough offshore. The swell was about 2m.”
WEEK of 4/20 -
FREAK WAVES -
AUSTRALIA – A sailor has died in a Melbourne hospital after a wave swept him and a crewmate into the superstructure of their bulk carrier off Victoria’s southwest coast on the 19th. “We had to actually have the (rescue) aircraft tied down to the ship … because of the swell, which had increased. Once we got (the patients) loaded on, we removed the ropes, had the ship pointed into the wind and managed to take off, again into another storm.” The ship was taking coal from Port Kembla to India when the accident happened. “Apparently there was a wave that came across the bow of the ship and these two gentlemen were taken by that wave and basically slammed into the structure of the ship.”
AUSTRALIA – A man has died after being washed off rocks while fishing on the New South Wales south coast. The 25-year-old man was swept away at Mullimburra Point, south of Moruya, when a big wave broke over the rock fishing platform about 9am on the 17th. Dangerous surf had prevented rescuers from retrieving the man’s body but further attempts would be made once the swell had subsided.
WEEK of 4/13 -
HIGH TIDES -
AUSTRALIA – Panicked island communities threatened by rising sea levels in the Torres Strait have demanded action before their homes are washed into the sea. Far north Queensland island communities are facing extinction by rising sea levels and are demanding evacuation plans for more than 2000 residents. More than 2000 people from at least six separate communities could lose their land and livelihoods as global warming pushes the shoreline ever closer. The communities most affected have applied to the State Emergency Service for disaster relief after Cyclone Larry exacerbated the problem last month causing widespread destruction. Coconut Island elders have seen erosion and king tides take their toll over the years, but never to the extent that it is now. “This time it is coming from all four sides and NO ONE HAS SEEN THAT BEFORE. I have personally seen about 60m of land disappear since the year 2000.” “We are being told it may not be global warming. But, traditionally, we are saying the water levels simply don’t get this high on the island.” “I can’t say global warming is responsible, but I can say the weather patterns that we experienced in the period 1948 to 1976 are returning to the area.” “We cannot continue to spend millions of dollars on infrastructure such as air strips if it is all going to be claimed by the ocean.” Numerous islands are reporting serious flooding. “The reality is that islands that have existed for thousands of years are retreating into the sea.”
The impacts of rising sea levels are already a near and present danger. South Pacific islands like Tonga and Tuvalu have reported sea level rises of 10 centimetres in just the past dozen years. Unprecedented tidal flooding in the Solomon Islands last February forced 2,000 people to evacuate. Much of the islands’ arable land is now contaminated by salt. Over the past 20 years, the white sandy beaches on some islands have been eroded and washed away by ocean currents, high waves and rising seas levels. In late March, 3.48-metre record high tides swamped most of Tuvalu, a collection of Pacific Ocean atoll islands where the highest point is 4.5 metres above sea level. Many of the palm-treed beaches have vanished and the higher sea levels make storms more dangerous. Relocation of the country’s entire population is being discussed and several hundred have already left. Rising waters will drown many beaches on Canada’s Atlantic coast by 2030. Cities and towns in low-lying coastal areas around the world are going to face major disasters from storm surges.
FREAK WAVES -
BRITAIN – A schoolboy died after being swept into the bitterly cold sea by a FREAK wave as he played with friends on the 11th. He was caught off guard on a promenade and carried into deeper water where he was battered against rocks off the shore at Sunderland.
AUSTRALIA – April 10th – Huge swells and unpredictable weather conditions are hampering the search for a rock fisherman who went missing on the New South Wales south coast three days ago. Rough seas reduced the search to car and foot patrols along the coastline.
NEW ZEALAND – swells of about 5m – some of the WORST IN RECENT YEARS – prevented the coastguard or Buller surf-rescuers putting to sea, hampering the search for a teenager swept off rocks near Charleston by a freak wave. The sea Monday, the 10th, went from extremely dangerous to very dangerous. The swells were expected to moderate over the next 36 hours. Land searches at low tide in thunder and heavy rain overnight on Sunday failed to find any sign of the boy. Searcher were focusing inland from the high-tide mark but avoiding the fierce surf.
AUSTRALIA – Big seas pounded the coast for a second consecutive day on Sunday the 9th, whipped up by a deep low pressure system over the Tasman Sea. Fears were held for a rock fisherman missing amid huge seas on the New South Wales south coast. The man failed to return from a fishing trip to Port Kembla. A large-scale sea and aerial search was mounted after his car was found parked near the ocean breakwater, but was called off due to rough seas. Fifteen people were rescued Sunday as huge swells created dangerous conditions at Sydney’s beaches. Waves of more than 5m were reported at Sydney’s southern beaches, and NSW Surf Lifesaving said it was possible the seas were even bigger on the state’s south coast.
NEW ZEALAND – A search is underway for a West Coast teenager swept off the rocks at Joyce Bay, Charleston, about 27km south-west of Westport, Saturday morning, the 8th. A wave swept the 15-year-old boy from Charleston and a friend into the sea about 10am. “A big wave came in and pulled them both off and one managed to scramble back on.” The area is notorious for freak waves. That day the sea was particularly rough. Neither the Coastguard nor surf rescuers had been able to put to sea in the rough conditions.
AUSTRALIA – A giant southern ocean low pressure system delivered the LARGEST WAVES IN 30 YEARS on Sydney beaches Saturday the 8th. There were waves like you usually only see in Hawaii. (PHOTOS)
AUSTRALIA – Popular Sydney beaches were closed Saturday, the 8th, as rough surf pounded the coast, prompting warnings for swimmers to take extra care. Bronte, Tamarama, North Cronulla, Elouera, Wanda and Garie beaches had been closed due to large surf and dangerous rips. Conditions were expected to worsen throughout the afternoon, with waves tipped to exceed five metres. A deep low-pressure system over the southern Tasman Sea was generating large southerly swells.
ISRAEL – Nine foot waves were reported on the Red Sea in Eilat on the 4th.
WEEK of 3/30 -
HIGH TIDES -
BRITAIN – A mother said her twin toddlers were lucky to be alive after being left stranded by a freak tide in Swansea, south Wales. Her 16-month-old daughters were plucked to safety by two police officers just minutes before they would have been completely submerged by freezing water. The drama occurred as the 35-year-old’s car cut out while she was attempting to negotiate the partially flooded Pont-y-Cob Road, which runs alongside the Loughor Estuary in Swansea. After misjudging the depth of the water and getting stuck, the mother soon found gallons of icy water pouring into the car as the tide rose dramatically. The ABNORMALLY HIGH tide was made worse by gale force winds in the area.
FREAK WAVES -
BRITAIN – A man has drowned after he was dragged into the sea by a freak wave. The man was sitting on some steps off Blackpool Promenade late at night with two friends when he was hit by the wave and dragged into the sea. The body of the man was found on the beach at 5am, some 200 yards from the sea wall. “We would warn all members of the public to stay away from piers and esplanades where the waves are breaking over them. Large tides are powerful elements.”
BALI – Last Wednesday (March 29), three Indonesians swimming in the Legian beach were hit by a huge storm-driven three-meter (10-foot) FREAK wave. Two of the domestic tourists were able to be saved but one was dead. Tourists swimming in the Legian beach have been warned of possible huge waves. “Indeed in the past few days, the weather has not been so friendly. Big waves could come and swallow swimmers.” The National Meteorology and Geophysics Agency has issued a warning for people to be alert for any changes in the colour of the sea or abnormal waves.
AUSTRALIA – Only the most intrepid surfers were in the water March 28th as huge waves pounded beaches around Sydney. Waves reached heights of up to eight metres, according to weather experts. High winds from the weather system formerly known as Tropical Cyclone Wati started the huge swell 1000 kilometres offshore in the Tasman Sea.( photo gallery of monster waves)
SOUTH AFRICA – A FREAK wave the size of a double-storey house took the lives of five fishermen as it roared towards the beach at Kommetjie on the Cape Peninsula. The bodies of four of the crew of the 12m Ulundi, which capsized and sank when the wave hit it, have been found. A search for the fifth fisherman had to be called off because of stormy seas. The fishermen, all from the Hout Bay area, were about two sea miles from the coast when the boat capsized.
A British research team has observed some of the BIGGEST SEA SWELLS EVER MEASURED (February 8, 2000). A whole series of giant waves hammered into their ship that were so big, according to computer models used to set safety standards for ships and oil rigs, they shouldn’t even exist. Near the island of Rockall, 250 kilometers (155 miles) west of Scotland, enormous waves came racing toward the vessel. When they checked their measuring instruments later, the scientists discovered that the tallest of these monster waves had hit nearly 30 meters (98 feet) at wind force 9. And it didn’t come alone. “We were shaken up these waves for 12 hours.” Entire sets of giant waves hammered the ship. Their research results suggest that giant waves may be much more common than previously believed. The giant waves observed are not the same as the notorious “freak waves” that appear out of nowhere during relatively mild weather, destroying even large vessels. The only waves considered freak waves are those whose overall height is at least twice their significant wave height. (PHOTOS)
WEEK through 3/23 -
HIGH TIDES -
AUSTRALIA – Cyclone Larry, as well as ferocious winds, the cyclone has brought huge king tides across much of the north Queensland coast.
FREAK WAVES -
BRITAIN – A yacht’s skipper from Fishbourne toppled overboard to his death after a FREAK WAVE struck the underside of a boat off the Dorset coast on Friday night, March 17. He was momentarily lifted off his feet by the impact on the vessel, landing on top of a crewmate, and rolling across the guard-rails and over the side into the freezing English Channel.
WEEK through 3/16 -
FREAK WAVES -
Comedian Tom Green says he is lucky to be alive after being slammed by a wave on a beach in Central America on Monday. He was hospitalized after sustaining two broken ribs as a result of the freak accident. Green says he was standing on some rocks while preparing to fish when he saw a “huge wave” heading in his direction and a wall of water hit him. “I felt my life flash before my eyes..,Milliseconds later I slammed hard onto the rocks… I could feel the cracking of bone.” He is in “severe pain” but feels fortunate to still be on the face of the earth. “It just doesn’t make any sense that I am not paralyzed, or broken in more places, or dead.”
JAPAN – A pair of would-be rescuers, including a Marine, had to be rescued themselves early Monday when they became trapped in a cave by Okinawa’s unpredictable weather. After being stranded for some nine hours and constantly smashed by 15- to 20-foot waves, the pair were plucked from the cave just after midnight by two pararescuemen from Kadena Air Base. The watery drama began about 4 p.m. Sunday when a 27-year-old woman from Tokyo was swept out to sea by a strong gust of wind while trying to swim to shore at Maeda Point, on Okinawa’s northwest shore. Three men jumped into water to assist her, but they also were overcome by the strong winds and high waves. The woman and her Okinawan diving instructor were rescued from the water, where they were holding onto rocks, at 5:20 p.m. by a Japanese coast guard helicopter. The other two rescuers found their way to shelter in a cave. With the weather worsening, a call was made for assistance. “They were lodged in a hole that was approximately three feet wide, three feet tall, and perhaps three to four feet deep and just above the point where 15- to 20-feet waves were crashing into the side of the cliff.” A pararescueman for eight years said it was one of the most dangerous rescue missions he’s faced. “I’d say this was pretty out of the ordinary for us. It’s not very often you’re faced with the hazards — the high surf, the winds and being so close to a cliff face — that this presented.”
The weather conditions in the Atlantic Ocean this year have been exceptional, with Hurricane Epsilon, two tropical storms including the latest ever recorded tropical storm in the mid Atlantic route, and three low pressure systems all occurring during the course of the U.K. Atlantic Rowing Race from November 30, 2005 – March 13, 2006.
In the around-the-world Aviva sailing challenge – “The Southern Ocean is making me pay for every mile I make across its vast ocean. This is going to be a fight all the way to the end…I have been sailing in 35 to 45 knots winds with some very aggressive squalls. The seas have added to the horrendous conditions giving mountainous waves that we have crashed into or fallen from or that have broken over us. Aviva and I have been beaten up for a full 36 hours. …The conditions today have returned my daily living to survival once more, and my whole body is exhausted from bracing myself or from trying to move around without falling or being thrown towards the low side…we have been keeping our fingers crossed for these horrible conditions to pass… We are crossing the Southeast Indian Ridge and heading towards the Kerguelen Plateau, in this region the depth changes from 4 kilometres on average to just less than 100 metres in places. This incredible shelving around the Kerguelen Islands makes it notorious for bad seas and big waves. Freak waves are a phenomenon of this area.”
The weather conditions in the Southern Ocean are exceptional. More words from the Aviva sailor – “All the weather allows me to do is get beaten up by gale or storm force winds for 24 hours then it will ease allowing me to increase sail area again for 24 hours then I put it all away again only to get beaten up by the next depression or storm that comes along… I dream to be just simply sailing for more than a day without preparing for a storm or recovering from a storm. I have a memory from months ago now, of sailing with the sun on my face. I long to return to that now… This morning I faced a cold front from a depression to the south of me and it was much more ferocious than we anticipated. As the front went through and I needed to tack, I was on deck in rain and hail with a wind shift of 60 degrees and gusts in excess of 50 knots. I couldn’t even open my eyes to see what was going on. It was unbelievable…It was an incredible sea with massive walls of water sweeping across the deck. An amazing sight seeing as it had developed in a relatively short time. What was an even bigger surprise was that after five hours of these horrible conditions the wind started to ease and all was well with the world again. Even more frustrating is the fact that at the moment the wind has died to nearly nothing and the sails are flapping as the swell rocks Aviva. Hopefully it will return from the north and we will set off again and yet again I will go from no breeze to strong gale force winds or above in another tropical depression that is heading my way for tomorrow afternoon. So yet again I go from having just increased my sail are to reducing it to prepare for a storm…in all these complex weather conditions it is difficult to achieve anything.”
WEEK through 3/9 -
HIGH TIDES -
AUSTRALIA – An infestation of UNUSUAL jellyfish has forced surf life savers in Cairns to remove stinger nets from beaches. Recent king tides have brought jellyfish usually found in deep waters to inshore areas. The ‘hair and blubber’ jellyfish can give a nasty sting. “What’s happening with the currents is they’re washing up against the nets and some of their tentacles are breaking off and a few people were suffering stings on a regular basis.”
An Australian mother-of-four was rescued after three days on a dinghy being belted with wild weather and having no food or water. She lost her way while trying to take her dinghy from a beach in southern Thailand to her anchored yacht, a distance of only 150 metres. She may have been the victim of ferocious king tides. “It’s very simple. I wanted to join my boat and it was extremely windy. I missed my boat and went into the ocean in my dinghy.” She was lost at sea for three nights and three days before an Indonesian fishing boat plucked her from sea, hundreds of kilometres south of where she went missing. “Only one night it was really bad because I was all the time wet. I had one wave after the other coming in.”
ENGLAND – The world-famous Merry Ferries landing stage at Liverpool’s Pier Head has been wrecked in FREAK weather conditions. Crowds of sightseers watched March 2 during high tide as the ferry terminal sank to the river bed. Early last night, at low tide, the structure had broken into several pieces. Engineers anchored the stage to the river bed to prevent it moving around in the swirling Mersey tide. It appears that a combination of freak weather and tidal conditions caused the problems that led to the stage sinking. One of the lowest tides of the year is thought to have placed an undue strain on the special chambers that act as an anchor point for the moving booms that link the stage to the river wall. The extremely high tide and weather conditions on Wednesday night then doomed the stretch of Georges Landing Stage. Ironically, the new stage sank soon after it opened in similar freak storms. That time engineers were able to refloat the stage and repair the damage. More than 30 years later, it is doubtful whether the current structure can be saved.
VIETNAM – High tides fueled by heavy northeasterly winds coming in off the East Sea were confirmed as the cause of flooding in southern Vietnam last week. The southern Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting Center said the fierce winds together with the flood tides brought on high water levels down river. The northeasterlies and the tide are to weaken in about 10 days with another less aggressive tide coming in. However, if the tide coincides with the incoming northeast winds, water levels could be high again, warned the center.
FRANCE – The month of March is rich in exceptional tides, those above coefficient 95, in the Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel. 2006 will be rich in exceptional tides, particularly the month of March when there will be almost ten tides above coefficient 95. If it is an impressive sight at high tide (indeed even dangerous when weather conditions are bad ), it is just as impressive at low tide. Receding several tens of kilometres offshore, the sea then gives way to over 25,000 ha ( 61,750 acres ) of sand, rivers and mudflats. At Le Grouin du Sud on the other side of the bay, in Normandy, you can observe the tidal bore, the first wave that comes into the bay at high tide, a “tidal wave” which can be as much as one metre ( 3.2 ft ) high.
FREAK WAVES -
GULF OF MEXICO – A low pressure system in the central U.S. is sucking air out of the Gulf of Mexico, churning the seas into a frenzy in the process. The marine forecast is for seas building from 6 to 8 feet on March 9th daytime, to 8 to 10 feet by nightfall.
UNITED KINGDOM – A fisherman has vowed to give up the hobby he has loved for 40 years after the second time a FREAK wave almost killed him while fishing off a pier. The man and his friend had to be pulled to safety through an emergency tunnel after they got stuck on the pier with 100ft waves crashing over them. “It got to the point where the waves were coming round both sides. The waves were 80ft and 100ft high. It was really frightening. We were there for a good hour. They [emergency crews] sent the boat out but it couldn’t get near us and the only alternative was to come through the tunnel.” “I didn’t think I was going to get off the pier at one point. The waves were massive and it was scary.” The rescue came just months after he was injured by a freak wave on Sunderland’s South Pier. “Last year, I was fishing when out of nowhere, a wave came up and hit me full-on and spun me round. I hit a wire cable, which stopped it pulling me over the edge. It knocked me out for a few seconds.” He has been fishing since the age of 10 but is so traumatised that he has decided to give up his hobby. On February 18, about 40 anglers had to be evacuated from Roker Pier by coastguards, after council officials decided conditions were becoming unsafe.
SUMATRA – Fishermen in Bangka-Belitung islands in Sumatra were reluctant to go out fishing due to uncertain weather conditions in the past few days, causing declining fish supplies and consequently increasing fish prices. “Sometimes the weather looks good on land, but when we are at sea, big waves and strong wind came, and fishing operations became difficult.” Strong winds and high waves often suddenly came in high seas so that fishermen decided to moor at small piers in several parts of Bangka and Belitung islands. Such a condition usually occurs from January through March. “Fishermen usually are able to predict weather conditions, but now things had become unpredictable, so they would only waste their fuel and time if they continue fishing.”
AUSTRALIA – Wild weather unleashed winds of 115 km/h, bucketing rain and monster waves off southeast Queensland on the 5th. One wave measured by a buoy off North Stradbroke Island reached a staggering 17m high, only 6m shorter than the Cape Moreton lighthouse. Rain from the Clayton’s cyclone – a deep low with clockwise winds but without the warm air of a tropical cyclone – fell for 4 days. The huge waves generated by the storm swamped bureau predictions which had been less than half the actual wave heights. The severe weather is set to continue, with gales and thunderstorms expected until a southeasterly change on the 8th. Big waves and howling winds continued to whip up foaming seas on the 5th, covering many southeast Queensland beaches in a flurry of cappucino-like froth. The beaches of the Gold Coast looked more like a giant bubble bath as huge swells capped with a thick layer of foam pounded the shoreline. Rogue waves measuring almost 10m high were measured off the southern end of the tourist strip. The biggest swell of the weekend recorded by the Waverider buoy off Point Danger was a massive 9.78m rolling towards shore at 8.30am. But that was dwarfed by a monster wave of 17m recorded off North Stradbroke Island on the night of the 4th. It’s pretty wild out there. It’s like a big washing machine.” Several days of pounding have taken their toll on most beaches with the hardest hit being Narrowneck and Palm Beach, where erosion had left drops of up to 2m to get to the water’s edge.
WEEK through 3/2 -
HIGH TIDES -
AUSTRALIA – Swimmers are being warned to stay out of the surf on southeast Queensland beaches this weekend because of treacherous conditions. Wild weather is whipping up waves more than 2m high at some beaches, and a professional surfing event on the Gold Coast today has been cancelled. Shark nets at some beaches also had been damaged. Big surf and tides at a number of beaches in the south-east were too treacherous for swimming.
UNITED KINGDOM – properties in low-lying areas along the Thames waterfront from the Isle of Dogs to Limehouse and Wapping have been spared flooding from a FREAK high tide and brisk North Area wind. The Environment Agency closed the Thames Barrier at Silvertown on Monday morning to protect upper reaches of the riverbanks from a tidal surge. Strong northerly winds down the east coast caused by a low-pressure weather system, combined with the high spring tides, created a 2ft surge on the incoming tide. The huge barrier gates stretching across to the south bank were reopened after six hours when the tide began to ebb.
Australian meteorologists warned Fiji and the Pacific region of the HIGHEST TIDES IN 26 YEARS that are expected to sweep in Tuesday, the 28th of February. The so-called king tides would be the highest for the period 1990 to 2016. The king tide phenomenon is expected because of the coincidence of the new moon today, the moon’s closest orbital approach to earth for 2006 and a “high normal seasonal tidal component” for the time of they year all occurring within a few hours of each other. This combo “produces higher than normal high tides and lower than normal low tides. Fiji, Tuvalu and Vanuatu should notice the greatest extremes…many areas will experience quite extreme tides.”
CALIFORNIA – February 27th the National Weather Service reported “very steep seas” of up to 16 feet are being caused by strong southerly winds and extra-high tides.
FREAK WAVES -
OREGON – The Coast Guard suspended the search for a woman who may have been swept out to sea after a large wave struck several people walking on a beach near Depoe Bay, Oregon. One of the individuals struck by the wave called the Coast Guard at 11:15 a.m., reporting the incident. The Coast Guard was informed that several people on the beach were struck by the wave and one person was drifting out to sea. One individual injured by the wave was transported to a local hospital. Swells as large as 25 feet have been reported along much of the Oregon Coast. Due to recent severe weather, the Coast Guard reminds beachgoers that sudden, unexpected waves along coastal beaches can be extremely dangerous. Swift currents and unpredictable rip tides can quickly grab people knocked down by waves and pull them out to sea. Surf zones often have debris, such as logs that weigh several tons, which can be thrown ashore injuring beachgoers.
WEEK through 2/9 -
HIGH TIDES -
AUSTRALIA – At least a hundred tonnes of farmed barramundi may have escaped from sea cages north of Darwin. Eight-metre king tides last week have been blamed for the escape, which is the second in less than five months for the company Marine Harvest. In September, about 10 per cent of their overall fish stocks escaped after an exceptionally low tide.
NEW YORK – It may be an unavoidable part of life near a bay, but the tidal flooding in Howard Beach and Hamilton Beach January 31st was the WORST MANY COULD REMEMBER IN OVER A DECADE. “It’s exceptional.” Lighter flooding occurs regularly with the full moon and high tide. “I know you get the new moon, and you get high tides, but nothing like this.”
FREAK WAVES -
AUSTRALIA – Two fishermen drowned after a wave swept one off a rock platform on the Central Coast in the afternoon of February 6th – the second man dying in a vain attempt to rescue him. The men were fishing on the rocks about 50m south of Avoca Beach at 1:45pm when a large wave washed one into the water. As the man, believed to be in his late 30s, struggled to stay afloat, his friend jumped in to help but got into trouble himself. While the water was choppy, the swell was not particularly high. “One fisherman told us it was a freak wave.”
WEEK through 2/2/06 -
HIGH TIDES -
MALAYSIA – all flood operations rooms statewide are to be on “high alert” in view of anticipated high tides and heavy rains over the next few days. Though the current weather pattern indicated that there would be no major flood, high tides coupled with heavy rains might swell rivers and flood lowland areas. King tides reaching a height of between 5.5 metres and 6.1 metres were expected to hit the coastal areas of Sarawak from Saturday the 28th to Friday. The highest level of 6.1 metres was expected on Tuesday.
CALIFORNIA – Unusually high tides (just over 7 feet) and rain were expected to result in flooding several low-lying areas of Mill Valley on Saturday, Sunday and possibly on Monday, January 30th.
FREAK WAVES -
One of the most astonishing reports from the recent spate of Gulf hurricanes showed wave damage to oil rig structures 80 feet above the water. It was astonishing because the tallest ocean waves ever measured were North Pacific giants about 53 feet from crest to trough – the height of a five-story building. The Gulf damage was attributed to a freak “rogue” wave. On Sept. 15, 2004, Hurricane Ivan passed directly over wave and tide buoys. The buoys reported a maximum measured wave height of 91 feet, with several others exceeding 66 feet – the largest ocean waves ever directly measured. Some may have been even taller. A mathematical analysis suggests the maximum wave height nearer the storm’s eyewall could have exceeded 132 feet.
WEEK through 1/26/06 -
HIGH TIDES -
NEW ZEALAND – Freak New Year tides arrived at Matarangi in the Coromandel and even poured over a hastily built sand wall, flooding the volleyball courts during a tournament. “It was very funny. I’ve never seen or heard of anything like it. With wind also in our early tournaments, we’d never played in such hard conditions. The high tide came on to the field [at Matarangi] and everything was under water. It was quite confusing. Even the net fell down.”
AUSTRALIA – The Maritime Safety Authority is warning of the potential for coastal damage if king tides over the next three months combine with storm or cyclone activity. The annual cycle of summer king tides is expected to continue until March this year with March’s highest tide only one centimetre below the February highs. If the weather is calm the king tides will have little impact on the coast. “The tide in itself is probably not a big changer of the waterways – a little bit of extra flow because of the rise and fall in the tide will definitely shovel the odd sand bank around a little bit not a great deal – the main concern is the waves that come with the storms they really get the sand mobile.”
FREAK WAVES -
NEW ZEALAND – A pair set out on a yacht from Napier with a “perfect forecast”. “My biggest concern was how much diesel we had because there wasn’t much wind.” As they headed past Cape Palliser en route to Kaikoura the forecast was for northerly winds of 25 knots and rough seas – acceptable sailing conditions. But by 11pm the wind had UNEXPECTEDLY CHANGED DIRECTION and intensified to 40 knots. “It was very rough with high seas. The waves were between five and seven metres and occasionally bigger.” 20 minutes later one was swept overboard when the yacht was hit by a 10m wave. “It was a monster. The mast was in the water, the boat was on its side and water was flowing over the top of it. I was in the cockpit and the whitewater picked me up and launched me out of the cockpit. I had my safety harness on and I was catapulted back. Rescue helicopters eventually winched the two men to safety, leaving the yacht to ride out the waves below them.
SPAIN – A freak wave ended the life of an angler in El Hierro and almost took that of his brother as the two men were fishing off Costa de Cangrejos, Valverde, last week. The force of the wave sent the younger man over the side of the small boat. The older man, who was injured in the accident, tried desperately to save the life of his brother, diving in and dragging him to the shore but as they neared it another huge wave broke and drove them towards rocks.
HIGH TIDES -
BRAZIL – The high tide caught many drivers by surprise on the beach of the Atalaia, Salt mines, the northeast region of Pará, in the last week of the year. Some vehicles became submerged in the water or bogged in the sand. There was much confusion as vehicles floated around. Accustomed to parking their cars at the end of the beach, drivers tried to drive the vehicles out as soon as the tide started to rise so high, but not all of them were able to get out in time. About 8 cars were almost completely covered by the water and others sunk in soft sand when they floated away from shore. (There is a link to a 1 minute news video of the event.)
MASSACHUSETTS – Thousands of families were still without electricity January 20, 2006 after a freak storm brought hurricane-force wind gusts to the South Shore. The Blue Hill Observatory in Milton recorded a southeast wind of 92 mph, the STRONGEST GUST IN 15 YEARS. “It’s wreaking havoc” with a double-whammy of wicked winds and rising tide. “The ocean was spraying. … I saw pieces (of the roof) flying through the air. It was crazy down here. I’ve never seen the bay like that before.”
CONNECTICUTT – A storm surge formed by a convergence of meteorological and astronomical phenomena last month caused an estimated $350,000 in damage to portions of the Niantic Bay Boardwalk. The full-moon high tide, on Dec. 15, and a southeast wind, which aimed waves directly at the shore, were factors that led to the surges. Had the wind been from any other direction, or had the storm hit during low tide, the conditions would not have been so powerful. “It was a pretty intense storm, and we had no idea it was coming.” “This was odd. The winds kept the high lunar tide all in the bay, all night long.” Water levels were 3.2 feet above normal high tide levels and the waves were being directed straight toward the rocks beneath the boardwalk.
FREAK WAVES -
OREGON – The Coast Guard suspended the search for a woman who may have been swept out to sea after a large wave struck several people walking on a beach near Depoe Bay, Oregon. One of the individuals struck by the wave called the Coast Guard at 11:15 a.m., reporting the incident. The Coast Guard was informed that several people on the beach were struck by the wave and one person was drifting out to sea. One individual injured by the wave was transported to a local hospital. Swells as large as 25 feet have been reported along much of the Oregon Coast. Due to recent severe weather, the Coast Guard reminds beachgoers that sudden, unexpected waves along coastal beaches can be extremely dangerous. Swift currents and unpredictable rip tides can quickly grab people knocked down by waves and pull them out to sea. Surf zones often have debris, such as logs that weigh several tons, which can be thrown ashore injuring beachgoers.
THAILAND – On December 15, 2005, six tourists were swept away by large ‘freak’ waves on the Thai beach of Ko Phangan, leaving several unconscious and 2 dead.
New Zealand’s transatlantic rowers are out of the race after a freak wave capsized their boat early on January 15th. “It was quite a surreal experience going round and round, upside down in one of these boats.” Stormy seas and strong winds had affected the whole race fleet in recent days. Two days ago the rowers had to contend with 25 knot winds and 8-10 metre high seas.
A week earlier a freak wave wrecked the Irish team’s rowing boat and threw them into the wild Atlantic. They were ‘really lucky’ to be rescued by the ship, Hispania Spirit, that had been taking a route it had not covered in three years. “When we got capsized we realised we were in the middle of nowhere.” Their rowboat capsized in rough seas, about 1,400 miles southeast of Bermuda. They were able to send a distress signal, which was picked up by the US Coast Guard in Virginia; the Coast Guard diverted two ships to the area. The men endured a five-hour ordeal on their life raft before they were rescued. Their journey had begun on November 30, when they set out from the Canary Islands on their way to Antigua in the Caribbean. A massive wave hit them side on and overturned the vessel. Gearóid had been rowing and noticed the freak wave at the last second. He shouted a warning to Ciarán who was in the cabin but didn’t have time to react. When Gearóid surfaced he was able to scramble aboard the upturned boat and was joined there a short time later by Ciarán. The question of righting the vessel didn’t arise as the stern had been broken off by the wave. Ciarán then had to swim under the boat to retrieve the life raft and emergency beacon. “The boat was absolutely destroyed. The sleeping cabin was completely ripped open and basically the boat was wrecked. The wave reduced it to matchsticks.”
AUSTRALIA – Around the 12th of January a four-metre boat capsized 600 metres offshore from Port Campbell. A trio were fishing in calm conditions when a freak three-metre high wave flipped their boat over. One woman was left clinging to the propeller for more than 40 minutes before she was rescued by divers. She credited the new laws requiring life jackets for saving her life.
AUSTRALIA – On January 8th a freak wave washed five people into the ocean at Grassy Head near Kempsey. Four of them made it safely back onto land, but their companion has been missing ever since.
SPAIN – There were funerals for three men who drowned January 10th lunchtime when their boat – the “José el Francés”- sank near the Beach of the Dead (Playa de los muertos). It seems that a freak wave, which hit the vessel while its motor was stopped, was the cause of the tragedy. The local community is closely tied to the sea. Two of the victims were father and son. The only survivor managed to swim to shore, where he was treated for hypothermia.
SOUTH AFRICA – a search was for two missing seamen after a fishing trawler tragedy near Dassen Island on the Cape West Coast early in the first week of January. Two crew members who survived the accident are recovering with their families at Hout Bay. The skipper, died when the ship, the Jidy Aym, apparently capsized when it was hit by a freak wave.
WEEK through 12/30 -
MALAYSIA – These days the fishermen in Kampung Kuala Balok near here have little choice but to stay home due to the unpredictable weather. Weather predictions began to go awry two years ago and the fishermen are afraid to go out to sea. Based on previous experience, Pahang would get heavy rains from November to March in conjunction with the monsoon season. But the sky has been clear the past few days although there were strong winds and high waves in the coastal areas. “If you look at the distant waves, you can see the bunga lalang or froth which indicates strong wind and a high probability of a heavy thunderstorm. It has been like that for the past few days but nothing has happened.” From October to last month the weather was unpredictable. Although the weather is better nowadays, most of the fishermen have been sceptical as there were signs of bad weather including strong winds and rough seas.
CALIFORNIA – San Rafael – County facing high tides, heavy rain and winds over the weekend. By Friday, the county is expected to be facing the UNUSUAL triple threat.
CALIFORNIA – The latest winter storm sweeping through the area is expected to bring high, strong waves to the northern and central coasts, according to the National Weather Service. The weather service is warning that waves of 20 feet or more could reach the coastline between San Mateo and Marin counties. A high-surf warning will be in effect along that stretch through 3 a.m. Thursday. Waves of 15 to 18 feet are expected from Monterey Bay southward. Waves also could run farther up the beaches than usual.
AUSTRALIA – A man drowned, five survived, in two boating accidents. One man drowned after a 6m fibreglass runabout overturned in a FREAK STORM off Peel Island at about 3am. The boat was swamped by a massive swell. “The wave hit the boat and it went straight down.” Northerly 15-20 knot winds were forecasted but a line of southern thunderstorms and strong easterly winds were not expected to reach Moreton Bay. The winds would have caught boaters out who were anchored in Moreton Bay and thought they had protection from easterly winds.
AUSTRALIA – Some beaches are having unseasonal weather with southerly winds instead of easterlies and really high swells. A growing number of drivers, mainly tourists or those inexperienced in 4WD use, were finding themselves bogged and in need of ‘recovery’. “This is the worst I’ve seen the beaches: we’ve had to help 10-15 vehicles over the last few days.”
CALIFORNIA – A storm coming from Hawaii is expected to bring waves upwards of 10 feet to parts of coastal Orange County today and early Thursday. Flooding in low-lying areas is possible. Since the highest tides came last week, there is a decreased likelihood of erosion.
CALIFORNIA – Large waves damaged the Venice Pier Wednesday and caused some minor coastal flooding.
EASTERN U.S. – STRANGE WEATHER drove in whales and dolphins to strand on bayside beaches and caused a host of other calamities that left many scratching their heads in disbelief. There were confirmed reports of water spouts, pink lightning, wind gusts of up to 100 miles per hour and fish in back yards, even in locations some distance from the ocean. “The fish were most likely dropped there by the spouts or by the significant storm surge.”
WEEK through 12/16 -
Rising seas have forced 100 people on a Pacific island to move to higher ground in what may be the first example of a village formally displaced because of modern global warming. King tides, often whipped up by cyclones, had become stronger in recent years and made Lateu uninhabitable by flooding the village four to five times a year. “They could no longer live on the coast” of Tegua Island in Vanuatu. “We are seeing king tides across the region flooding islands.”
In the United Kingdom in the Thames Gateway close to London, currently being described as the largest housing and regeneration project in Europe, much of the land proposed for building is particularly vulnerable to flooding. There is a Thames Barrier to protect the city and the upper river. Built in anticipation of closing on three occasions a year, in 2001 it closed twenty-four times, and in 2003 nearly as many again. The weather is getting more unpredictable, and so is the sea. A number of Dutch architects have designed and built floating homes and more are being designed. With floods and tides becoming even more unpredictable around the world, settlements and communities living close to water are having to think again about adapting to climate change and the increasing volatility and destructiveness of the sea. For many this means rethinking how to build close to water, if not on water itself, and thinking hard about settlements and forms of architecture which might be called amphibian. A real change of mindset is needed in future about building and living close to water, particularly tidal water.
WEEK of 11/22 -
Epsilon veered away from Bermuda on the 30th toward colder waters in the central Atlantic that were expected to gradually weaken it. The storm had been pounding Bermuda with heavy surf for a couple of days.
Tropical Storm Delta – Six African would-be immigrants drowned off the coast of Spain’s Canary Islands on the 27th as storm waves swept their makeshift boat. The accident was the most serious consequence of Tropical Storm Delta which became a winter storm as it neared Africa on Monday, but brought strong winds to the islands. Rescue services had difficulty reaching the wrecked boat, which carried around 50 people, because of fierce weather conditions.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA – The Carteret Islands are almost invisible on a map of the South Pacific, but the horseshoe scattering of atolls is on the front-line of climate change, as rising sea levels and storm surges eat away at their existence. For 20 years, the 2,000 islanders have fought a losing battle against the ocean, building sea walls and trying to plant mangroves. Each year, the waves surge in, destroying vegetable gardens, washing away homes and poisoning freshwater supplies. Their islands are becoming uninhabitable, and may disappear below the waves. A decision has been made to move the islanders to the larger nearby Bougainville island, four hours’ boat ride to the southwest. Ten families at a time will be moved, over one to two years. Two uninhabited Kiribati islands, Tebua Tarawa and Abanuea, disappeared underwater in 1999. In February, Tuvaluans in the capital watched high tides and strong winds send waves crashing across the main road. Children rode the waves on makeshift surfboards, trailing behind cars and vans dashing for higher ground. “The prediction is (that) in 50 years Tuvalu will not exist.”
WEEK of 11/13 -
PAPUA NEW GUINEA – King tides in Papua New Guinea’s Bamu and Gama river deltas in August and September have left villages swamped in knee deep mud, creating severe food shortages. People are starving, with the mud ruining staple sago crops and killing animals.
NEW JERSEY – Rising sea levels caused by global warming could shrink New Jersey by up to 3 percent in the next 100 years. As much as 9 percent of the state’s low-lying land could be hit by periodic coastal flooding in a trend that would devastate property, disrupt wildlife, erode beaches, and salinate drinking water in populated areas.
NORWAY – A pipeline-laying barge broke free from its tow in the North Sea during bad weather and was drifting out of control in an area studded with oil rigs. The weather continues to slow down rescue efforts. “The waves have been up to 8 metres high.” The ship has drifted for more than 12 hours from the British sector of the North Sea into the Norwegian sector.
HAWAII – It was a surfer’s paradise on Oahu yesterday, and forecasters were expecting more of the same today after two swells and strong tradewinds converged to kick up waves on all four shores. “There’s surfing on all sides of the island.” Man y people couldn’t remember a time when waves were ready for the riding on all Oahu’s shores. “It’s kind of unusual.” Wave faces reached as high as 8 feet on east-facing shores yesterday. “For this time of year, (the swell) is a little RARE.” Waves heights on the south- and west-facing shores rose because of a swell generated in the South Pacific. A northwest swell caused by a low-pressure system in the Gulf of Alaska brought up surf heights on the North Shore. “During the transition season, you can often have both the North Pacific and the South Pacific active with storms.” South Shore swells are usually generated in the summer, while the North Shore gets its highest waves during the winter months.
SOUTH AFRICA – The early South Easter wind, together with the STRANGE occasional heavy north westerly winds we have experienced recently, has brought in warm water along our coastline resulting in masses of jellyfish and bluebottles being deposited on the beaches. Long time residents said this was the first time they had seen so many bluebottles washed out onto their beaches. “Old salts believe that the bluebottles are a sign of a forthcoming Geelbek “dik” wave, which so often happens in Betty’s Bay at the beginning of December and in February. I often wonder that with the strange weather we have been experiencing of late, if we, who live in the Strand, are not in for an exceptional high tide. I’m talking about the kind of high tide that will wash over our beach walls, road and pavement and into nearby houses.” 11/8 -
SOUTH AFRICA – FREAK weather and big surf have forced organisers to postpone the Quiksilver Goodwave surfing event for safety reasons. But on the 8th, surfers were catching waves that are more common in places like Hawaii and Tahiti. Waves started swelling on the 7th and reached three metres in certain parts of Durban’s beachfront this morning. A Parks and Recreation Department employee said he had been working at the beach for 25 years and had never seen waves this size. “It’s big all along the coast. All I could see as I drove over the Umgeni mouth was walls of foam.” The huge waves were thanks to some bizarre weather which has seen floods, snow and high-speed winds across the country. Seamen and private yachtsmen were aware the conditions were dangerous.
BAHAMAS – After Hurricane Wilma ripped through Florida two weeks ago, she picked up new strength and made a change in course that local forecasts didn’t predict. Wilma made landfall on October 24 on Grand Bahama. The storm became what many here are saying was THE MOST DEVASTATING HURRICANE THE ISLAND HAS EVER SEEN. Storm surges 12 feet (3.7 meters) high swept away more than a hundred homes and killed at least one villager, a 15-month-old child who drowned in the sea swells. Local media are calling the surge “the Bahamian tsunami.” “This was a massive wave that came in, one that was beyond any way to control it.”
CUBA – No fatalities occurred in Cuba, even though Wilma was in the vicinity of the island for 10 days. In Mariel, a port east of Havana, the residents were watching as the huge waves were breaking against the shoreline. ”I’ve never seen waves like this.” ”The ocean is furious, as if it wants to take back the land.” (photo)
CUBA – Waters poured over Havana’s famed seawall Monday, flooding up to five blocks of city streets, as Hurricane Wilma dumped up to 22 inches of water on some parts of the island. Wilma coincided with high tide, causing an UNPRECEDENTED STORM SURGE. The flooding at some points was three-feet deep. A village called Guanimar south of Havana and Alquizar were completely under water. ”Coastal areas of Havana sometimes flood for one or two blocks – but going to G. Avenue or Linea? I have never seen floods like that, ever.” There flooding was not so much from heavy rain, but from the rising sea. In Mantua, 23 inches of rain fell. Guane saw nearly 15 inches and Matahambre, 13.
“I’ve never seen the sea come in so far, not even in the storm of the century (in 1993), and it is still rising.” “It’s amazing, the streets have turned into big canals.”
Hurricane Wilma – Storm surges have reached as high as the third story of some hotels as Hurricane Wilma batters Mexico’s popular Cancun resort area. The Caribbean flowed over the hotel zone, reached three stories high and merged with an inland lagoon. “This is THE EQUIVALENT OF HAVING FOUR OR FIVE HURRICANES OF THIS SIZE PASS OVER ONE AFTER THE OTHER, given the amount of time we have been suffering hurricane-force winds. NEVER IN THE HISTORY OF QUINTANA ROO HAVE WE HAD A STORM LIKE THIS. The water is crossing over from the sea into the lagoon.” The spectacle has remained both dramatic and unchanging for hours, with an increasing amount of debris blown from buildings as they slowly succumb to the storm. Huge waves are crashing onto Cuba’s westernmost tip.
GUYANA – The East Coast of Demerara and Lenora on the West Coast were under water 10/18 as spring tides overtopped the country’s seawall and threatened new flooding. Residents may need to be evacuated should the tide rise even higher. Efforts were underway to obtain boulders from other projects to cushion the impact of the tide.
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO – Unusually big waves, many more than 25 feet high, flooded Maracas Bay and the surrounding area on Sunday, due to three separate weather systems in the region. Huge waves were generated in the Caribbean on Sunday due mainly to swells generated by tropical depression #22 which formed nine days ago north of Puerto Rico. In addition, waves from Tropical Storm Wilma have also contriubted to the huge waves. Another weather system, although upper level in origin but eventually reaching the surface , has generated and continues to generate rough seas to the NE of Trinidad. The Met Office has admitted that it was “unusual for energy emanating from these three systems, the latter two in particular, to sustain itself for that distance to T&T.” The Seismic Research Unit has ruled out underwater earthquakes, landslides and volcanic eruptions as possible causes, therefore the huge waves can not be classified as tsunamis. The shoreline was littered with vultures feasting on dead fish, and debris brought in by the waves.
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO – There was panic on the 16th at Maracas Beach, when a series of towering waves, many more than 25 feet high, sent seabathers, vendors and lifeguards running for their lives. It took everyone by surprise. It has been over 10 years since the area has experienced anything like this.
In India, fears gripped people of many tsunami-hit villages of Nagapattinam coast in Tamil Nadu as the water level in many tanks and ponds rose rapidly and bubbles emanated from them. A panic-like situation prevailed in most parts of the district. ‘The abnormality might have been caused due to the earthquake that hit the northern parts of the country’, official sources said. The ripples and the increase in water level were noticed around 11 am in many water bodies, coinciding with the earthquake in north India. ( 7.6 quake in Pakistan) The abnornmality continued for an hour. Fishermen were instructed not to venture into the sea.
A high tide “caused a much stronger current between two reefs [in north Queensland, Australia] than I think anybody realised”. Two British tourists on a diving trip, suffering exhausting and mild hypothermia after being left behind in the water for 6 hours, were found about 3.50pm, nearly 10km from where they first entered the water. They were “freakishly lucky” to have been found before nightfall in the shark infested waters.
Surging surf in Hawaii is causing a dangerous threat. Two days of 10- to 12-foot faces prompted lifeguards to bring out extra protection as dangerous conditions along the packed beaches of Oahu created dozens of close calls. On Lanai, residents say they are seeing some of the largest surf on the south shore in years. “I’ve never seen the surf this big coming in from the south breaking over the breakwall, and when it hits the breakwall, going over the harbor master’s office.” The large ocean swells also delayed an important shipment to Lanai. The weekly barge, scheduled to leave from Honolulu, delayed departure because the seas were too rough to sail.
FREAK WAVES -
Surfers crowded the Pacific waters in California THursday, enjoying 8-foot surf and the best waves of the summer. The high surf caused minor damage at the glitzy Malibu Colony, where residents were prepared for the highest tide tonight, expected at 8:44. It has been years since they’ve experienced such a swell off Malibu. “It’s huge. Massive waves.” Surfers caught waves that were twice as fast as usual and rides twice as long as usual. “You could get a ride 45 seconds plus. You get this, at most, once a year.” What’s different the last two days, is that the waves are coming in from the southwest, enough to swell around the Palos Verdes Peninsula, which usually blocks the good waves before revelers get a chance to paddle into the ocean. Tides normally 2 to 3 feet high will swell to 6.5 feet. The result will be an average of 7-foot waves and a high of 12-foot waves in south-facing beaches Friday at 8:48 p.m. and Saturday at 9:45 p.m
In a strange and rare phenomenon the sea turned violent so much that all the fishing boats, fishing on the Western Coast of India near Malpe and around had to come back without venturing further for the last couple of days. Usually the sea is not that violent during this part of the year. The mighty waves of monsoon season too calm down by mid September allowing the fishermen to venture into deep sea for fishing. But this year in a sudden and unexpected burst, the sea has turned so violent that more than 1,200 fishing boats could be seen at anchor at Malpe port. The sea had turned violent a couple of days ago when most of the boats were in the sea. The port normally can hold only 500 big boats. Some more boats have been on anchor just outside the port. This has been giving sleepless nights to boat owners, for f the mighty waves lash the port area, most of the boats will be damaged by dashing against each other. The fishermen say that it is for the first time in the last decade that sea has turned hostile to them during this part of the year. Actually this is the beginning of a new season for them after a 52 day lay-off in June, July and the first half of August. But if the weather remains same for some more days, the fisheries community would surely be in hot water.
In Hawaii lifeguards performed more than 120 rescues on Oahu by 5 p.m. yesterday as waves with 10- to 15-foot high faces pounded southern shores. On Maui, government officials closed the state beach at Makena due to 8- to 12-foot shore breaks, and also shut down South Kihei Road near Mokulele Highway because of wave surges flooding a stream and nearby coastal area. A sailboat was destroyed when it ran aground. An unusually powerful storm that generated high winds about 2,000 miles south of the Cook Islands one week ago is responsible for the south swell. The swell is also affecting west and east shores as it wraps around the islands. The weather service received reports of 10- to 14-foot waves off Maili on Oahu’s west coast, 12- to 15-foot waves near Wailua on Kauai’s eastern shore and 8- to 10-foot waves at Kahaluu on the Big Island’s west side. The waves were welcome by surfers who had not seen a south swell all summer.
HIGH TIDES -
For the second consecutive day, sea water flooded into the fishermen colonies at the Ennore coastline of India giving rise to panic and apprehension among the people. Although high tides during full moon and new moon days are said to be a common phenomenon, the fisherfolk says the height of the waves and consequent flooding of their houses were out of ordinary. The new moon on Saturday caused rough sea to create giant tides in Ennore with water entering with regular frequency. Following the flooding of sea water, the people living in the coastline have shifted to safer places in the interior.
Madang town was hit by unusual king tides, destroying property and some landmarks along the coastline yesterday evening. Madang Regional MP was visibly distraught about the damage being done and what may have happened to the villages along the coastline. The sea began to get rough at 4pm. The seawater and waves began rising early in the afternoon. Between 7.30 pm and 9.30pm the abnormally high waves were still pounding on the beachfront. The Melanesian Discover cruise ship was in the waters between Madang and Lae, en route to Milne Bay and no one is sure of its fate. No one had ever seen waves as high in Madang. The seawater was rising over two metres above the normal level as indicated by the National Weather Service.
FREAK WAVES -
A vicious storm is blowing up at sea to the south of South Africa and the maritime industry has been warned to take precautions. Huge swells with a long period between them, dangerous especially to large ships, gale-force south-westerlies and possible wave anomalies in the Agulhas Current may combine to make life tough for sailors today and Saturday. The storm’s intensity will probably not be felt strongly on land because the storm will pass by to the south, but heavy rains could be expected overnight to Saturday, and temperatures could again plummet. “We have got a hell of a deep low-pressure system to the south-west of the country and it should intensify with a strong high-pressure system behind it.” The combination of weather moving up the south and east coast and the current moving down could bring about the anomalous wave conditions often described as “freak” waves that had severely damaged or sunk vessels along that coast over many years. “By what it looks like now, I’d say we can expect swells of 10 metres off Cape Point. The conditions have created wave periods of up to 16 seconds, which means the distance from wave to wave is about 350 metres.
Unusually high tides partially submerged two offshore islands Monday in southeastern Bangladesh, forcing nearly 20,000 residents to flee their flooded homes. A gradual tidal surge submerged almost two-thirds of Sandwip island under 5 feet of water. A depression brewing in the Bay of Bengal and the pull of a full moon were likely causing the high tides, which also breached protective mud embankments and inundated low-lying areas of Chittagong, 135 miles southeast of the capital, Dhaka.
Helsinki, Finland is facing EXTREME weather conditions. “The city seems ready to float away into the Baltic, like one of the huge ferries which ply the waters daily between here and Tallinn or Stockholm.” Storms are causing such high waves – between 4 to 7 metres in height – that the ferry schedules are currently postponed or cancelled altogether. It is unusual that these conditions are in Helsinki for the beginning of August.
A tidal surge triggered by a storm in the Bay of Bengal on Tuesday flooded islands off the coast of Bangladesh and left about 3,000 people homeless. Most people took refuge in cyclone shelters as a two-metre-high surge swept through the islands of Kutubdia, Moheskhali and Saint Martin. The coastal district of Cox’s Bazar was also hit. “The sea water rose up and flooded our coastal village.” The tidal surge also washed away more than 100 shrimp farms. The Bangladesh Meteorological Department had warned of high waves during full tide unless a monsoon depression over the Bay of Bengal subsided.