Largest Wave Ever Recorded
The biggest wave that was ever recorded by humans was in Lituya Bay on July 9th, 1958. Lituya Bay sits on the Southeast side of Alaska.
A massive earthquake during the time would trigger a megatsunami and the tallest tsunami in modern times.
A magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit the Gilbert Inlet on July 9, 1958 at 10:15 p.m., causing a massive rockslide that spread over 40 million cubic yards.
At the center of the earthquake, which rested on the Fairweather Fault, was Lituya Bay, a two-mile stretch of water.
Scientists said that glaciers, rocks, and a number of other debris fell from nearly 3,000 feet (914 meters), causing significant damage.
This catastrophic event caused the biggest tsunami recorded throughout history. Alone, the tsunami sat between 100 feet (30 meters) and 300 feet (91 meters), though the breaking waves that came after grew even higher.
Below are images of the trim-line caused by the tsunami.
Setting a Record For Destruction
As the wave began traveling throughout the length of Lituya Bay, it eventually reached a full height of 1,720 feet (524 meters), destroying everything around the Gilbert Inlet.
This giant wave destroyed shorelines, as well as nearby trees, plants, and soil. During the event, there were three fishing boats in the water.
One of the boats known as "Edrie" was sitting on the south side of the bay at Anchorage Cove, just half-a-mile from the mouth of the wave.
At the north end of the bay sat the other ships, the "Badge" and the "Sunmore." Luckily for the boaters, they were able to surf the big wave, flying above the trees. Unfortunately, two people on the Sunmore were confirmed dead during the storm.
The Story of the Badge
The Badge, which was a small trolling boat in Anchorage Cove, also got lucky.
Bill and Vivian Swanson, the boat's owners, said in an article that "suddenly, the glacier dropped back out of sight, and there was a big wall of water going over the point. The wave started for us right after that, and I was too busy to tell what else was happening up there."
It wasn't long before the boat was traveling far above the rocks and trees before a crash landing. The couple ended up long in the nearby woods surrounded by debris, though were eventually found by a rescue team.
According to a few people who watched the whole thing take place, the crest was somewhere between 25 and 50 feet.
How Did The Biggest Wave Ever Recorded Come About?
It wasn't until much later that scientists took up the task of studying this incredible wave. Scientists such as Hermann M. Fritz, Michael L. Gittings, and Charles L. Mader, took on the task, studying and modeling the wave.
However, it wasn't until 2019 that a 3D simulation of the wave was created by a team of scientists over at the University of Malaga in Spain.
The team of scientists used highly accurate reconstruction techniques with a shallow-water model and a design of the initial landslide, showing how the energy was released and transmitted into the water.
Biggest Wave Ever Surfed
To put this into perspective, one of the tallest waves humans have seen surfed in history had a height of only 100 feet. And yes, it may be one of the most heart-pounding videos on the Internet today.
Garrett McNamara surfed a 100-footer in Nazare, Portugal. Using the photo captured, the Guinness Book of World Records measured the front-facing area and gave the title to McNamara.
Tallest Open Ocean Wave Recorded By Buoy
Data from a buoy many miles the coast in the North Atlantic near the United Kingdom and Iceland showed a group of waves, which peaked at 62.3 feet high. The World Meteorological Organization confirms this record.
The organization says that it is now the world's tallest wave measured by a buoy, though it is still much smaller than the Lituya Bay waves, which are still the tallest known to man.
The measurement comes from the K5 buoy, a very popular buoy among Scottish surfers.
Seeking Out The Gnarliest Waves Around The Globe
Like many surfers out there, you might be dreaming of finding the highest waves around the globe. Here are some of the gnarliest known to man: