Record-breaking wave thunders through North Atlantic

Posted at 8:56 AM, Dec 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-14 08:56:01-05

A colossal wave recorded in the North Atlantic has smashed previous records for size.

The 62 foot (19 meter) wave — captured between Iceland and the UK on February 4 2013 — has set a new world record for the biggest wave ever recorded by a buoy, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

The previous record of 60 feet (18 meters) was also measured in the North Atlantic in December 2007.

Four times the size of a double-decker bus, the WMO said the huge swell followed the passage of a “very strong cold front” which produced powerful winds of up to 50 mph (80 kph).

The organization said the delay in confirming the new record was due to the time it took to analyze, cross-check and verify the data.

“This is the first time we have ever measured a wave of 19 meters. It is a remarkable record,” said Wenjian Zhang, WMO Assistant Secretary-General, in a statement.

Wave height is defined as the distance from the crest of one wave to the trough of the next.

The buoy that recorded the wave is part of an extensive network of both moored and drifting buoys that — along with ships and satellites — monitor the oceans and forecast “meteorological hazards.”

Zhang said capturing a wave of this size highlights how important these observations are in protecting the lives of crew and passengers on busy shipping lanes.

“We need high quality and extensive ocean records to help in our understanding of weather/ocean interactions,” he said.

He added that despite huge leaps in satellite technology, moored and drifting buoys still play a major role in collecting data from those hard to reach places.

While the gigantic swell has confirmed its place in the record books, it falls short of the biggest wave ever surfed.

A mammoth 78 foot (23 meter) wave was surfed by Hawaiian, Garret McNamara, in November 2011 at Nazare, in Portugal.