Giant Waves: Background information when reading The Wave

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The Wave

In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean

by Susan Casey

The Wave
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2010, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2011, 432 pages

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Giant Waves

Giant waves were once the stuff of nautical tall tales, filed alongside stories of mermaids and giant squid, but today we know better.

The force of waves is hard to comprehend. According to The Wave, an 18 inch wave can topple a wall built to withstand 125-mph winds; a breaking 100-foot wave packs 100 tons of force per square meter. In short, those who encounter giant waves rarely live to tell the tale! According to the 1995 MaxWave Project, 200 super carriers have been lost in the last 20 years, many believed to be due to rogue waves.

The first measurable recordings of giant waves came from oil rigs, such as the Ocean Ranger, a 337 foot high oil rig located off Newfoundland which was struck by a wave in 1982 and capsized. There is no record of the size of the wave but the rig was built to withstand 110 foot seas. Then, in 1995, a rig in the North Sea was hit by a freak 85 foot wave, more than twice the height of the other waves in the storm. The rig survived but...

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