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March 4, 2010 / Dave Gorham

Waves to Blame for Two Deaths on Cruise Ship

A strong low pressure area that has been moving eastward across the Mediterranean Sea generated unusually high seas that crashed into a cruise ship yesterday smashing windows and killing two on board. In addition to the high seas, this strong low has been responsible for wind damage across Spain and northern Africa, with aircraft pilots and air traffic control reporting turbulence and significant visibility restrictions due to blowing dust and sand from Morocco across Algeria and into Tunisia and Libya. Today the low is moving northeastward into south-central Europe and seas are only now beginning to lay down following the reports of yesterday’s 10 meter (33 feet) waves that pounded the cruise ship.

Our image below, from today’s ImpactWeather’s Gmaps Interactive Mapping System, show the seas (colors), wind speed (numbers) and wind direction (arrows). Also, due to the counter-clockwise rotation of a low pressure area, the wind direction arrows indicates the location of the low just west of Corsica with peak winds  of 35 knots in the Ligurian Sea (south of Monaco) with another peak of 36 knots just west of Sardinia. The Gmaps seas colors are as follows: Blue (2-4 feet), green (4-6 feet), yellow (6-8 feet), red (8-10 feet), magenta (10-12 feet), purple (12-15 feet). When providing a wind and seas forecast to offshore operators, the wave spectrum includes the significant wave (indicated in colors below), the occasional wave which in this case could be as much as 20 feet, and the maximum wave which is double the significant wave or about 30 feet. Even today these unusually high seas are possible. Perhaps not surprisingly, I was unable to find any ship reports in this area to confirm the current state of the sea.

Image: ImpactWeather’s Gmaps 2.0

Amateur video footage provided by AP and Yahoo.







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