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Massive Atlantic wave sets record, says World Meteorological Organization

Storm over the Atlantic Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The wave was captured not by man, but by a buoy

The highest-ever wave detected by a buoy has been recorded in the North Atlantic ocean, the World Meteorological Organization has said.

The 19-metre (62.3ft) wave happened between Iceland and the United Kingdom, off the Outer Hebrides.

It was created in the aftermath of a very strong cold front with 43.8 knot (50.4mph) winds on 4 February 2013.

The WMO, which released the data, said the previous record was 18.275 metres (59.96ft) in December 2007.

That wave was also in the North Atlantic.

It is not the biggest-ever recorded wave, however. In 2002 a ship spotted a 29-metre (95 ft) North Atlantic wave.

In 2014, the M4 Donegal buoy recorded a 23.4 metre wave, but the WMO said the new record was based on "significant wave height" which required certain measuring methods and observing periods.

The buoy is part of the UK Met Office's network of Marine Automatic Weather Stations. Known as K5, it sits in the North Atlantic off the Western Isles

The buoys complement ship-based measurements and satellite observations, which monitor the oceans and forecast meteorological hazards on the high seas.

Peaks and troughs

Giant waves can be created in the north Atlantic, which stretches from the Grand Banks plateau off the coast of Canada to the area south of Iceland and west of the UK.

In winter, wind circulation and pressure systems cause extratropical storms, sometimes known as bombs, the WMO said.

The height of a wave is measured from the crest of one to the trough of the next.

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