Harbor Wave

February 28, 2010

Some of us spent Saturday afternoon waiting for the big wave that never came. Most of us watched from the TV set, others in person from Hawaii, still others from California, Australia, etc. And…nothing. No death, no destruction, just a little three-foot tall ripple that flooded a few piers in Japan. CNN must have spent millions on news coverage – this was a bigger blunder than Geraldo Rivera and the Lost Vault of Al Capone (what idiocy that was). Regardless, the anti-tsunami was good news, especially for the idiots paddling around Hilo Bay hoping to catch the big one. Duh.

But six years ago, there was a big wave, and sadly, nobody was expecting it. It came after an earthquake even bigger than the one last weekend, but for some reason none of the world’s braniacs thought that a one-hundred foot wave might be coming to swallow up hundreds of thousands of victims, many of them children running out into the receding tide to catch the fish flopping about in the sand, just before the wall of water came in to take them out to sea. But as deadly as the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 was, it pales (in size, anyway) to one that struck Alaska in 1958.

One night in Lituya Bay, Alaska, several fishing boats sat anchored. Even though it was a little after ten, it was still light out because…well, don’t ask me why, I’m not telling that story now. Anyway, a large section of glacier fell into the nearby ocean, maybe because of an earthquake, maybe because glaciers are big and heavy and they fall down once in a while. Who knows? But however it happened, it created one big ass wave. How big, you ask?

Imagine this: you’re out fishing with your kid, maybe thinking about heading in to port for a beer and a little lutefisk, and you look up to see a wave coming at you, a wave higher than the highest skyscraper in the world, a wave measuring over 1700 feet. Don’t believe me? I’m not making it up (not this time). Look it up for yourself. And here’s the coolest part – only a couple of people died, and two boats actually rode the wave out to the end. One of the fishermen later went on to invent the surfboard and he…no, just kidding.

BTW: according to urbanlegend.com, the picture I’ve posted above is fake. But it’s still a cool pic, don’t you think?

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