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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Big wave season

Passing storms during the last few days have generated some of the largest waves of the season so far.  Today there was a west swell, with ~12-14 foot waves, and a wave period of ~15 seconds.  (Wave period is basically how fast the waves are traveling — it's the time it takes for two successive wave crests to pass the same point.)

It's often hard to judge the size of a wave from a picture.  It helps to have something nearby for scale.  

Here are two images, the first with Brown Pelicans (wing span of ~2 meters or 79 inches) and the second with a Western Gull (wing span of ~1.5 meters or 58 inches).

One more view from the side:

Although these waves are large, the most energetic winter storms can produce waves up to 20 feet, and in extreme events we've seen waves up to 30 feet.  When those waves slam into Bodega Head, it feels like the entire headland is rumbling and shaking!

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