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WeatherMatrix (Jesse Ferrell)

Big Waves in United Kingdom, but no 75-Footer

By Jesse Ferrell, Meteorologist/Community Director
2/15/2014, 12:50:58 PM

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UPDATE 2/15: This buoy has been sending bad data again -- this time a 90 ft. wave which has gotten some press. With no high waves either side of it, I would assume data malfunction once again, as uncovered below. That said, a large wave (said to be 85 feet) did kill one on a cruise ship yesterday!

ORIGINAL STORY 2/7: A number of stories were published yesterday by Britain's over-the-top-bordering-on-tabloid newspaper industry, including this one from The Express, which say that a new, 75-foot wave record was set for United Kingdom waters yesterday. The waves have already done considerable damage, including the destruction of a local rail track, featured on the front page of The Times newspaper there yesterday:


But was there a 75-foot wave? I spoke to Dr Travis Mason from the Channel Coastal Observatory, who said "the 22m significant wave height measurement recorded by the Directional Waverider buoy in Penzance Bay" was removed from the dataset because it was anomalous and that "the half hour period before that gave a significant wave height of 4.78m (15.7 feet - which he described as "unusually high" due to their shallow-water location) but lower after. The highest wave their buoys recorded this week was West Bay @ 23.2 feet... still impressive for their location, but no 75-foot monster. Other waves measured by the UK Met Office in nearby waters showed readings as high as 26 feet.

It could, indeed, get worse. More dangerous waves, over 48 feet, are bound for the UK tomorrow, according to the WaveWatch III forecast model:


Our forecast for this storm says: "The communities of Cornwall and Plymouth have been some of the hardest hit by flooding so far. More high waves will accompany this storm with the largest waves expected on Saturday and Saturday night when heights over 10 m (33 feet) are expected."

This is all caused by a very strong low pressure system (sub-944 mb offshore, 948 mb on land according to the "Euro" forecast model.


Our official UK storm forecast is here, but that model shows 65-knot (75 mph) winds in southern Ireland and the SW United Kingdom coast as the storm moves onshore, but lower winds after that. If the model is correct (rapid forecast swings are normal at this latitude), Portugal should be aware of a threat for winds over 80 knots (92 mph) on Monday!


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WeatherMatrix (Jesse Ferrell)