Rogue Waves: Salty Sea Ninjas

I grew up in the Midwest, far away from any ocean. Yes, Madison, and Wisconsin in general, is full of lakes and swimming holes, but (aside from a sojourn to one of the Great Lakes) the available wave action doesn’t really grow beyond choppy whitecaps. Okay, once a huge tornado-level storm whipped through and completely up-ended my grandparent’s boat right from its watery cradle, but still, it was no Perfect Storm situation.

We did, however, have The Waterpark Capitol of the World just an hour away. Oh, the Wisconsin Dells, perpetrator of sunburns, cesspool of teeming pre-teen hormones, school buses, screaming kids, hour-long lines, sticky fingers, adrenaline rushes, and always, always, a half-cocked woman in a mesh shirt singing Elton John at the karaoke bar. ¬†Funny, as a kid I didn’t even know they served over-priced booze in these places. Now I can’t imagine setting foot in any one of the area’s 10, 000 water arenas without something to take the edge off of my senses.

Anyway, what our usual park of choice, Noah’s Ark, did have, was a souped up wave pool. And man did I spend many a thrilled hour being gently rocked and/or violently tussled by those sweet artificial waves. I even got yanked out of the water once by a would-be good Samaritan, though I wasn’t drowning so much as pretending to be a pudgy dolphin.

All this is to say, waves are fun. Until they aren’t. And certainly there is one type of wave that is so unpredictable, so enormous, so deadly, so Megatron, it could never be called fun: The Rogue Wave. Yep, that is a real thing, not just some misty-eyed yarn told by drunk sailors and sentimental pirates.

Curious? Learn all about it with my latest SciShow script:

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