Donegal wave is a new high water mark


THE HIGHEST WAVE ever recorded in Irish waters formed off the coast of Donegal yesterday, according to Met Éireann.

The M4 weather buoy, positioned about 96km out to sea, north of Mayo and west of Donegal, recorded a maximum wave height of 20.4m or 67ft – the equivalent of a four-storey building – early yesterday afternoon.

The record wave showed up on an hourly report received from the buoy at 2pm, with the wave occurring some time in the previous hour. The new record toppled an earlier record wave, recorded at the buoy between 11am and noon.

“There was a record wave of 20.2m earlier but it didn’t last very long,” a spokesman from Met Éireann said. “The previous record was something like 16m so it’s a significant jump in magnitude.”

“These are relatively new buoys that can do this. I don’t think we would have records going back a long time – so it’s a record but it’s a relatively new measurement system. It’s not like some of our temperature records that go back over 150 years, but certainly it’s exceptional.”

Met Éireann said a storm passing to the north of Ireland coupled with westerly winds behind it were likely to have created the wave.

“If you get a long stream of strong winds from the same direction, you get waves building up. Often, it’s to do with the fact that the wind direction is quite consistent, so it keeps building up and up.”

Photographer James Hearne, who has been taking pictures of high waves off Mullaghmore Head in Co Sligo since Monday, said surfers have been making the most of the record surges preparing for a Billabong surf contest to be held in the area in 2012.