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Winter storm may bring waves over 20 feet tall to Lake Erie, highest since Superstorm Sandy

NOAA forecast models show 22-feet wave in center of Lake Erie Friday afternoon
Posted at 1:29 PM, Dec 22, 2022

CLEVELAND — In addition to snow and sub-zero windchill temperatures, the winter storm hitting our area Friday is forecasted to cause high waves that Lake Erie hasn’t seen since Superstorm Sandy.

The 50 to 60 mph wind gusts predicted to sweep across Northeast Ohio and Lake Erie Friday afternoon could cause wave heights over 20 feet in parts of Lake Erie, according to forecast models from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Animation from NOAA forecast models showing when wave heights from the winter storm are expected to peak at 20 to 22 feet on Lake Erie on Friday afternoon.

The last time Lake Erie saw waves that high was on Oct. 29-30, 2012, when Superstorm Sandy made landfall and brought similar-speed winds of 50 to 60 mph.

According to Mark Thorton, who runs the weather blog LakeErieWX Marine Weather, the tallest officially recorded wave was 14 feet, but he says it is likely that higher wind speeds near Cleveland produced much higher waves.

Watch our coverage of damage from Sandy in 2012:

It should be noted that the NOAA model shows the highest waves will remain offshore, but those near the shore may want to keep an eye out for towering waves Friday afternoon.

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