The sinking of the El Faro: predicting real world rogue waves during Hurricane Joaquin
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionScientific Reports. 2017, 7 (11188), . 10.1038/s41598-017-11505-5
We present a study on the prediction of rogue waves during the 1-hour sea state of Hurricane Joaquin when the Merchant Vessel El Faro sank east of the Bahamas on October 1, 2015. High-resolution hindcast of hurricane-generated sea states and wave simulations are combined with novel probabilistic models to quantify the likelihood of rogue wave conditions. The data suggests that the El Faro vessel was drifting at an average speed of approximately 2.5 m/s prior to its sinking. As a result, we estimated that the probability that El Faro encounters a rogue wave whose crest height exceeds 14 meters while drifting over a time interval of 10 (50) minutes is ~1/400 (1/130). The largest simulated wave is generated by the constructive interference of elementary spectral components (linear dispersive focusing) enhanced by bound nonlinearities. Not surprisingly then, its characteristics are quite similar to those displayed by the Andrea, Draupner and Killard rogue waves.