Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have confirmed the phenomenon of rogue waves on Lake Superior — waves double the size of others at the same time and which have been named as a potential cause of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.
Professor Chin Wu and research assistant Josh Anderson are studying rogue waves in the Apostle Islands area where they observed waves as high as 17.7 feet when the other waves at the time averaged only 8.9 feet.
The big waves, sometimes called freak or killer waves, tend to occur unexpectedly and with huge force that makes them especially dangerous.
Although the study is still in progress, preliminary results show an increase in the probability for rogue waves near reflecting walls — such as a shoreline cliff.
Wind speed and direction and currents are likely other factors, the researchers note. And they say one rogue wave probably means another is not far behind.