A rogue wave that was recorded off the coast of Ucluelet towards the end of 2020 is being labelled the most extreme to ever be registered in the region.
A coastal intelligence organization, MarineLabs, was the one who recorded the rogue wave and dubbed it the most extreme wave to be monitored in the region.
This so-called “rogue wave” was measured at 17.6 metres in height, which equates to the approximate height of a four-storey building. According to reports from MarineLabs Data Systems, the rogue wave was in a sea state with wave heights of approximately 6 meters, making it three times the size of those around it.
The wave itself, measured off the coast of Ucluelt in the Amphitrite Bank area, hit in November 2020.
The record-setting Ucluelet wave was recorded by one of MarineLabs’ sensor buoys deployed approximately seven kilometers offshore of Ucluelet — part of a network of marine sensors that comprise MarineLabs’ CoastAware™ platform.
According to the findings by Dr. Johannes Gemmrich and Dr. Leah Cicon — both experts from the University of Victoria — published in the journal Scientific Reports last week, waves must be more than twice the height of other waves around them in order to be classified as “rogue.”
“Proportionally, the Ucluelet wave is likely the most extreme rogue wave ever recorded,” says Gemmrich, who studies large wave events along BC’s coastlines as part of his work as a research physicist at the University of Victoria. “Only a few rogue waves in high sea states have been observed directly, and nothing of this magnitude. The probability of such an event occurring is once in 1,300 years.”
Dr. Scott Beatty, MarineLabes CEO, outlines that these rogue waves are unpredictable and “the sheer power of these ‘walls of water’ can make them incredibly dangerous to marine operations and the public.”
“The potential of predicting rogue waves remains an open question, but our data is helping to better understand when, where and how rogue waves form, and the risks that they pose,” adds Dr. Beatty.
MarineLabs’ CoastAware provides data from a network of 26 sensor buoys strategically placed on coastlines and in oceans around North America. In 2022, the company says it plans to more than double its number of sensor locations, bringing its fleet of buoys to close to 70 by year-end.
“We are aiming to improve safety and decision-making for marine operations and coastal communities through widespread measurement of the world’s coastlines, says Beatty. “Capturing this once-in-a-millennium wave, right in our backyard, is a thrilling indicator of the power of coastal intelligence to transform marine safety.”
With crest peaks having been measured in 2020 by the sensor buoy, there is currently no risk to the public from this extraordinary Uclulet rogue wave.