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3/23/2007

Monster waves recorded during KZN storm surge

Earth News: South Africa
March 22, 2007


Scientists monitoring waves off the South African coast say the highest wave measured during the violent storms off KwaZulu-Natal this week was a startling 12m, measured off Richards Bay. And although this single storm cannot be labelled "climate change", scientists say it was a rare event that may be linked to the phenomenon. "This is a RARE event - both in terms of the impact and the atmospheric feature which gave rise to it, which was PARTICULARLY UNUSUAL." The waves in this week's storms were the HIGHEST THEY HAD MEASURED on the KZN coast IN 23 YEARS. The "significant wave height" was 8.5m during the storm. "The last time we measured waves like this off Richards Bay was in February 1984 with Cyclone Imboa." "For the east coast of South Africa this week's storm is quite a significant event. Normally cut-off lows move off in an easterly direction fairly quickly, but if they remain in one place, they will generate big waves." The storm was caused by a cut-off low - a closed low pressure system that rotates clockwise and can generate strong winds and intense rainfall. "Because it was east of the country, the strong winds off the coast covered a large stretch of ocean, allowing the ocean swell to become very large. It developed east of South Africa, off the coast above the warm Agulhas current. This is RARE as they almost always develop west of the country and move across the country, often bringing extreme rainfall. What actually caused it to form and become so strong is still not clear."

Freak Waves
March 23, 2007
Rough seas lashed stones and debris onto the N2 roadway, posing a danger to motorists in Port Elizabeth Wednesday. This triggered a warning from the provincial transport department for motorists to drive with caution on the N2 between Deal Party and Bluewater Bay following the road damage earlier that morning. Although the road was cleared, “motorists are warned to be careful because high swells are still being experienced”. Seas have been rough over the past couple of days. However, conditions were expected to moderate Thursday. Earlier in the week the KwaZulu Natal coastline was pounded by massive waves. The resultant widespread flooding left one person dead, several others injured and caused considerable damage to Durban‘s Golden Mile as well as to other popular resorts. There were equally heavy seas off the Eastern Cape coast with huge waves of up to nine metres off East London and
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