Draupner wave

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The Draupner wave, a single giant wave measured on New Year's Day 1995, confirmed the existence of freak waves, which had previously been considered near-mythical.
Close-up of the event, taken from Paul Taylor's paper.

The Draupner wave or New Year's wave was the first rogue wave to be detected by a measuring instrument, occurring at the Draupner platform in the North Sea off the coast of Norway on 1 January 1995. In an area with significant wave height of approximately 12 metres (39 ft), a freak wave with a maximum wave height of 25.6 metres (84 ft) occurred (peak elevation was 18.5 metres (61 ft)). Prior to that measurement, no instrument-recorded evidence for rogue waves existed beyond anecdotal evidence provided by those who had encountered them at sea, although ships such as the British Ocean Weather Reporter had recorded very large waves that did not differ from their neighbours enough to be considered rogue.[1]

Minor damage was inflicted on the platform during this event, confirming the validity of the reading made by a downwards-pointing laser sensor.