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Rogue waves on Lake Erie?

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Old 05-06-2018, 08:30 PM
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Default Rogue waves on Lake Erie?

I was on the lake yesterday with my brother and we were fishing north of Scott's Point. Now I have owned a boat on LE for 40 years and I had something happen that I have never experienced and my brother was there to witness it. He had never seen anything like this either. I saw 3 large waves that looked like the rollers we get with east winds coming from the north. It had to be a boat wake because the waves were going against the wind. These were some big roller waves and I didn't see the boat that the waves came from. They were spaced just right or wrong I should say. I have a 10' beam on the boat so it's good in the waves but not these waves. The first wave was getting closer and closer and I swear it looked like it was getting larger the closer it got. The boat tipped down right in front of the wave and then lifted up the boat, the next wave hit us as the starboard side of the boat was still riding high from the first wave. The second wave hit us and I thought we were going to capsize, everything in the boat slid to the port side of the boat including us. The boat was pitching so violently that the water bottles we had in the drink holds came out of the drink holders. Then the third wave came and again I was sure we were going to capsize, I don't get scared easily on the lake but I was VERY shook up over this. My brother could hardly talk and yelled out "holy shit" where did those come from?

I kept wondering how/why these waves kept growing larger and larger and I realized that we were on the top of the reef/shoal in 11' of water but just to the north the bottom drops down to 28'. What I think happened was when the wave got to the shallower water they stacked up as the bottom came up along the reef. This is about the only explanation I could come up with and neither of us saw any boat that was capable of throwing a wake this large. The only other explanation I could think of was combined boat wakes. There were a lot of boats running around in the area so I wonder if the timing was just right that these boat waves combined making much larger waves.....?

Curious if anyone ever had this happen or can you think of an explanation? This had never happened to me before I hope it never happens again!
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Old 05-07-2018, 02:17 AM
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The simple answer to your question is yes, rogue waves do happen on Lake Erie. I have encountered them on several occasions.
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Old 05-07-2018, 11:02 AM
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Check the date of your rouge wave against the reported earthquake under Lake Ontario, last week. The two events might be related.
As I recall, the quake only registered 1.5 and was supposed to be centered south of Toronto.

Just a thought.
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Old 05-07-2018, 02:17 PM
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Originally Posted by RGrew176 View Post
The simple answer to your question is yes, rogue waves do happen on Lake Erie. I have encountered them on several occasions.
Did you experience these waves when you were running the boat? I have hit a wave larger than the regular wave often but it's hard to tell how large the wave actually is when I hit it when running.

Even the waves didn't look right, there were 3 consecutive waves and after they hit us there was no smaller following waves like a boat wake. I tell you that I am not exaggerating the size of the 3 waves, I don't recall ever feeling like a boat was going to capsize which is why this was such a shock. I don't have a good explanation other than something created the waves.

Originally Posted by Bison View Post
Check the date of your rouge wave against the reported earthquake under Lake Ontario, last week. The two events might be related.
As I recall, the quake only registered 1.5 and was supposed to be centered south of Toronto.

Just a thought.
Hmmmm, I checked out the earthquake and it happened on Friday and we were out Saturday morning. The earthquake was so small that I doubt it could generate waves all the way across Lake Ontario to the south shore of Lake Erie.
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Old 05-07-2018, 03:20 PM
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I know nothing about lakes but as a surfer growing up the two factors that make for a nice big breaker is the reef (wedge)and the wave traveling against the wind, which we called offshore wind. Those two conditions made for the best and biggest waves here in Florida. Sounds like the same two factors were there in your situation. Where the rollers came from is the mystery though.
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Old 05-07-2018, 04:57 PM
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Originally Posted by peacemon View Post
I know nothing about lakes but as a surfer growing up the two factors that make for a nice big breaker is the reef (wedge)and the wave traveling against the wind, which we called offshore wind. Those two conditions made for the best and biggest waves here in Florida. Sounds like the same two factors were there in your situation. Where the rollers came from is the mystery though.
We were on the edge of the reef where the water goes from 12' to over 30' so I did wonder if the wave grew extra large as it hit the shallow water of the reef? I guess it's possible that the waves were from a boat wake and as the bottom came up the wave got larger. I have never experienced something like this and don't want to again.
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Old 05-07-2018, 08:25 PM
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Originally Posted by RussH View Post
Did you experience these waves when you were running the boat? I have hit a wave larger than the regular wave often but it's hard to tell how large the wave actually is when I hit it when running.

Even the waves didn't look right, there were 3 consecutive waves and after they hit us there was no smaller following waves like a boat wake. I tell you that I am not exaggerating the size of the 3 waves, I don't recall ever feeling like a boat was going to capsize which is why this was such a shock. I don't have a good explanation other than something created the waves.



Hmmmm, I checked out the earthquake and it happened on Friday and we were out Saturday morning. The earthquake was so small that I doubt it could generate waves all the way across Lake Ontario to the south shore of Lake Erie.
Generally I am underway when out on the lake. I rarely anchor out in open waters. The so called rogue waves can occur on just about any body of water if conditions are right. As an example you could be out on the lake in 3 to 5 footers. It is not uncommon at all to get an occasional 10 footer tossed in among the waves. It happens somewhat regularly. What causes it, in my opinion I think that crossing boat traffic wakes get mixed up in the waves and it will build up into a wave that is bigger than the rest.

I think that in your situation the waves were coming in from deeper water and hit the shallower reef and you felt and experienced the results of waves moving in from deeper to shallower waters.
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Old 05-10-2018, 04:59 PM
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Originally Posted by RussH View Post
We were on the edge of the reef where the water goes from 12' to over 30' so I did wonder if the wave grew extra large as it hit the shallow water of the reef?...
That exactly caused the got bigger effect. Just as you see the waves get bigger at the shore of the beach and brake. Same effect. As the wave moved to shallow water it definitely got bigger/taller at that area.
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Old 05-16-2018, 09:06 PM
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I was working on the boat today and there was a guy that stopped by and just started a conversation. He asked me how my boat took rough water and I brought up my experience with the waves my brother and myself experienced. Right away he said "oh The Three Sisters", I didn't have to describe what happened because his experience was exactly the same. He told me he has had a boat on LE for over 50 years and it happened to him once and he heard from another boater that it happened to him so I am the 3rd person that has experienced it.

The wind was blowing up waves maybe 2' or a little larger, the water temp and the air temp were about 30F difference, we were fishing along the edge of a reef, the 3 waves came out of no where as if they just formed 30 seconds before they hit the boat, after they almost flipped the boat over they appeared to just go away.....exactly the same thing that happened to us!

I don't blame anyone that doesn't believe me....I probably wouldn't believe it either if it had not happened to us. It's a super rare event but it's real, in hindsight I think it's cool that we experienced it but......I hope it never happens again!
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Old 05-16-2018, 11:50 PM
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Rogue waves can happen on any significant sized body of water. Lake Erie is no exception. Rogue waves happen. The way I look at it either you have experienced rogue waves or you someday will.
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