October 30, 2012 - Wind and Wave Reports/Pictures

On Tuesday October 30, 2012, the south Lake Michigan buoy recorded the 2nd highest wave height since records began in 1981, 21.7 feet. The table below shows the top 5 wave heights recorded at the buoy.

Top 5 Record Wave Heights at South Lake Michigan Buoy**
  Storm Date Peak Wave Height (feet)
1 Sept 30, 2011 22.9
2 Oct 30, 2012 21.7 (peak gust 56 mph)
3 Nov 11, 1998 20.3
4 Oct 20, 2011 19.2
5 Sept 23, 1989 18.4
** Provided by NWS-Chicago

What makes the October 30, 2012 storm even more remarkable is the duration of extremely high waves.  At the south buoy every hourly observation from 5 am through 2 pm had wave heights of 18 feet or greater, which is 10 hours of 18-foot waves.  Going back through the 31 years of archived data from the mid-lake south buoy prior to October 30, 2012, there had been only 15 hourly observations with wave heights of 18 feet or greater.  This really speaks to how remarkable the waves were with this storm.  Prior to October 30, 2012, the record for the most consecutive hourly observations with waves 18 feet or greater was back during the November 10-11, 1989 storm when there were 7 consecutive hourly observations.

The image below shows the highest wind gusts recorded on Tuesday across southeast and south central Wisconsin. Click on the image for a larger version.

Off the shore of Shorewood, a buoy measured wave heights of 5 feet on October 30th.  This buoy is about 1 mile off shore and is known as the Atwater Buoy.  Otherwise eyewitness reports indicated that waves were generally in the 6 to 8 feet range along the Lake Michigan shoreline from Sheboygan down to Kenosha.  However, the Kensoha Coast Guard station estimated waves of 10 feet at the end of the breakwall.

Below are some pictures of the wave action along the Lake Michigan shoreline on October 30, 2012.  The pictures were taken by Bob Sommer who recently retired as a Technical Sergeant from the 440th Airlift Wing, Pope AFB NC.  Bob - thanks for sharing!  Click on the image for larger version.

Lake Mich Shoreline Pictures

Below are a couple pictures taken by Jeff McKeown on the lakefront in the city of Racine.  Jeff - thanks for sharing. Click on the image for larger version.

Lake Michigan Waves Racine

Click here for more information on Sandy.

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Click here for a time lapsed 6 day satellite loop of Sandy's evolution (during daylight hours).


Brooks/Wood/REM/MBK/Kapela
NWS Milwaukee/Sullivan, WI



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