August 4, 2005

Hurricane Ivan generated giant waves, study finds

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Hurricane Ivan, which caused a
swathe of destruction across the Caribbean last September
before crashing into the U.S. Gulf coast, generated ocean waves
more than 90 feet high, researchers said on Thursday.

They may have been the tallest waves ever measured with
modern instruments, suggesting that prior estimates for maximum
hurricane wave heights are too low, William Teague of the Naval
Research Laboratory in Stennin Space Center, Mississippi and
colleagues reported.

"We measured a 91-footer," Teague told Science, which
published the study.

A wave that big would snap a ship in two or dwarf a
10-floor building, Teague said.

And the sensors may have missed the largest waves, which
the authors estimate had crest-to-trough wave heights exceeding
40 meters or 130 feet, the researchers said.

Such giant waves disintegrated before they ever touched
land, the researchers wrote in the journal Science.

They were recorded by sensors about 75 miles south of
Gulfport, Mississippi on six moorings resting on the ocean

Ivan was a Category 4 hurricane that blew across Grenada,
and plowed its way up through Jamaica, Grand Cayman and other
islands before getting a fresh burst of energy over the Gulf of
Mexico and hitting U.S. coastal regions.