Thursday, March 4, 2010

And the Waves Roll On

Did you hear about the Mediterranean cruise ship hit -- and severely damaged -- by three very large waves? Two people died, and several others were injured.

What I find especially curious about this, is that there is a strong tradition of large waves coming out of nowhere -- causing incredible mayhem, or even sinking the ship -- then disappearing as suddenly as they came. For a long time, because there were only sudden disappearances, or shocked survivors' accounts, these were pooh-poohed as just a fantasy. Finally, thanks to a few events that are too big to ignore (including photographs and video), these waves are being given some credence.

Who knows what causes them? Some suggest underwater earthquakes or volcanic eruptions. Others say they're 'backwash' from typhoons or earthquakes on the other side of the world. No proof for anything...yet.

All that is known is that these rogue waves arrive -- and they kill.

When they come in a set of three (like the ones that hit the cruise ship), they're called the "Three Sisters." When the Edmund Fitzgerald, a Great Lakes superfreighter, sank in Lake Superior in 1975, she went down without a peep -- no distress signals or other communications. But the Arthur Andersen, another ship near the "Fitz's" last location, and in intermittent contact with her that stormy night, reported being hit with three gigantic waves in succession, with no warning. The ship barely kept afloat. Its captain thought it quite possible that the Fitzgerald, which was listing and reported water washing over its decks, hadn't had a chance.

Shades of the "Three Sisters."

For more on rogue waves, also known as freak and monster waves, read here -- but be sure to do it while listening to this. Good for a getting-gradually-grayer day like today.

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