Monster 75-Foot Wave Loomed Off the California Coast During the Holiday Weekend

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giant blue ocean wave crests in Pacific Ocean off California

-Oxford- / Getty Images

The California coast is known for some monster waves, but over the Thanksgiving holiday, there was one mountainous undulation the likes of which few have ever matched.

A shocking reading by a Scripps Institution of Oceanography Coastal Data Information Program (CDIP) buoy in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Cape Mendocino registered a wave measuring in at around 75 feet tall. That makes it one of the largest and tallest waves ever recorded, reports Forbes.

It's frightening to imagine a wave so colossal looming off the coast while so many people might have been enjoying their Thanksgiving feast in the comfort of their oceanview homes. The good news is that this wave didn't pose any threat to coastal communities; it occurred in deep water, roughly 20 miles off the coast in the predawn hours. No daring surfers ended up tossed under its massive current, thankfully.

Still, this wave would have been a surreal sight to see, a white-capped behemoth rising from the dark sea like a leviathan. Though if there were any sailors around to witness it, it would likely have been among their last sights. Waves of this height can threaten even the most durable of ocean vessels designed to navigate rough seas.

Meteorologists blame this event on the so called holiday bomb cyclone, which inundated many parts of the country with severe weather during the holiday weekend. Bomb cyclones occur when mid-latitude cyclones experience a sudden and rapid drop in atmospheric pressure. This lowering pressure acts like a bomb dropping, thus the moniker. These weather events are known for producing monster waves in the deep ocean, though this one was especially severe.

The 75-foot wave was not alone. Wave heights averaged to around 43 feet tall across the region during the storm, so this would have been a perilous sea to navigate. Still, this one monster wave would have towered over the landscape, even if you were cresting atop an average wave in the storm. It would have loomed like a black wall out of the darkness.

It's a sobering reminder of the dynamic nature of our planet, and that storms like this could become more frequent due to our changing climate.