Register for an account


Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.


Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.


Water water everywhere

Cosmic VarianceBy Daniel HolzDecember 16, 2009 7:50 AM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Northern New Mexico is an absolutely fabulous place to live. But, on occasion, I wish I had a teleporter handy. One of those occasions would be when the "Swell of the Century" hits the Hawaiian Islands, as it did last week. It turned out to be more like the "Swell of the Decade", but apparently was nonetheless quite spectacular. Spectacular enough to hold the Eddie, a big-wave contest that can only be held in epic conditions.


There's some good video here and here. Conditions were apparently squirrely, so most of the footage consists of fairly spectacular drops leading to gnarly wipeouts. Every now and then someone (often Kelly Slater [at left above]) emerges intact. Unless you've been out in overhead+ surf, I think it's hard to fathom just how powerful these waves can be. You've bodysurfed three footers, and you think you have a clue. But you don't. For a little perspective, here's an excellent video from a (professional) surfer who wiped out at Jaws (on the north shore of Maui; it only fires on big days [like last week]). He survived (more-or-less). While Hawaii was being slammed by water horizontally, we got a vertical contribution (in the form of a couple of feet of snow). It's time to go dust off my snowboard.

    3 Free Articles Left

    Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.


    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

    Want unlimited access?

    Subscribe today and save 70%


    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In