A Massive, Record-Breaking Ocean Wave Reaching 78.1 Feet In Height Has Just Struck Close To New Zealand

Scientists believe waves in the Southern Ocean may have even reached 82 feet at one point, but were unable to confirm this.

A record-breaking ocean wave has just struck near the coast of New Zealand.
Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

Scientists believe waves in the Southern Ocean may have even reached 82 feet at one point, but were unable to confirm this.

An enormous ocean wave reaching 78.1 feet (23.8 meters) in height has just hit Campbell Island, located around 435 miles away from New Zealand, making it the largest wave on record to ever be recorded anywhere in the Southern Hemisphere.

The previous record-breaking wave in this region was recorded in 2012 when a wave was found to have reached 72.3 feet (22.03 meters) in height in Tasmania. The intense storm that has lashed the Southern Ocean around New Zealand and Campbell Island will soon be giving surfing enthusiasts in California powerful waves of their own, according to Oceanographer Tom Durrant, and these should be striking sometime within the next week, as ScienceAlert report.

“To our knowledge it is largest wave ever recorded in the southern hemisphere. Indeed, surfers in California can expect energy from this storm to arrive at their shores in about a week’s time.”

The recent storm was so powerful that scientists believe at one point the waves may have even topped 82 feet (25 meters), but it is impossible to absolutely confirm this as the solar device that is used for such measurements only functions at intervals of 20 minutes over the course of a three-hour time period, as Durrant explained.

“During that 20 minute recording period, the height, period and direction of every wave is measured and statistics are calculated. It’s very probable that larger waves occurred while the buoy was not recording.”

The huge wave that struck close to the coast of New Zealand was so massive that it would have even crashed beyond the top of the White House and is the equivalent a building that is eight stories high.

Scientists noted that the event was the direct result of a low-pressure cell that happened to be traveling at the exact speed of the waves, which allowed the waves to continue growing to alarming levels during the storm.

As the Earth continues to grow warmer, researchers believe we will be seeing more of these types of storms, according to MetOcean Solutions’ Peter McComb, who personally set up the solar buoy that recorded the record-breaking wave in the Southern Ocean.

“This is exactly the sort of data we were hoping to capture at the outset of the program. We know that the speed of these storms plays an important role in the resultant wave climate and that has great relevance under both the existing and climate change scenarios.”

While the wave that struck near New Zealand and broke Southern Hemisphere records was certainly a powerful one, the strongest wave that has ever been recorded was set in Alaska in 1958 and measured 100 feet in height.