Saturday, March 6, 2010

Newsy: Rogue Waves Blamed for Cruise Ship Deaths

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Two passengers were killed when cruise liner Louis Majesty was struck head-on by three waves estimated at over twenty-six feet tall.
Two passengers are dead and fourteen wounded after waves estimated as three stories tall struck the Louis Majesty, a cruise ship heading through the Mediterranean.
Some scientists and media outlets are blaming a phenomenon known as the "rogue wave," but others say it isn't even part of the story.
A Fox News anchor was among those blaming "rogue waves," for the incident, and talked with an oceanographer to explain just how the accident happened: "We call them rogue waves, these are massive waves in the ocean that suddenly pop up out of almost nowhere. Typically they're associated with a weather event and often where an ocean current and a big weather event occurs." 

But a scientist on Wired.com says it isn't so easy to explain how, where, or why a rogue wave forms: "We don't know what's going on out there. There are some theories, but I don't think those theories can ever translate into the real ocean environment."

Other news outlets took a direct approach to dismissing the "rogue wave" discussion. A CNN meteorologist explains how these waves weren't quite up to par: "Buoys nearby recorded significant wave heights (defined as the average of the largest 1/3 of waves over a 20 minute period) over 6 meters. The waves which hit the ship were reported to be between 8-9 meters. This would not be considered a 'rogue' wave, as rogue waves must have a height at least double the significant wave height, but it is nevertheless abnormally high."

A correspondent on MSNBC says other meteorologists are blaming severe weather for the massive--but not rogue--waves: "It was in the Mediterranean, it ran into a nasty weather system just off the coast of France and Spain that had whipped up 60-mile-an-hour sustained winds. Meteorologists say that the sustained winds are really the key to what happened here, that they were strong enough and sustained long enough to create a succession of these monster waves."

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