May 11 (UPI) — Scientists believe an 80-foot wave that formed off the coast of New Zealand this week is the largest wave ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere.
A storm close to the Southern Ocean’s Campbell Island, a low-pressure system and 65-knot winds helped create prime conditions for the wave to form.
“To our knowledge, it is the largest wave ever recorded in the southern hemisphere,” said Tom Durrant, senior oceanographer at New Zealand’s MetService, adding the Southern Ocean is the “most energetic part” of the world’s oceans for producing waves.
A buoy recorded the 80-foot wave, but Durrant said the storm likely created bigger waves in other locations.
Officials said the solar-powered buoy that recorded the wave was installed in March to measure extreme conditions in the Southern Ocean and only measured for a 20-minute burst every three hours to conserve battery life.
“It is quite possible, even probable, that there were much higher waves during this storm,” he said.
Durrant said surfers in California could expect to feel energy from the storm hit West Coast shores by next week, as the swells “propagate throughout the planet.”