ROI-NAMUR, Marshall Islands - Massive waves caused significant flooding at a remote U.S. Army base in the South Pacific, and the entire event was captured on video.
U.S. Army Garrison Kwajalein Atoll (USAG-KA) said a major flooding incident occurred Saturday night on Roi-Namur in the Marshall Islands. A series of strong waves hit the dining hall, knocking doors off their hinges, tossing furniture around, and causing several people to lose their balance and fall.
Video (above) shot by Erik Hanson shows the moment a huge wave breaks down a door, washing over people inside the building. He was enjoying a night at the Outrigger Bar & Grill when "rogue waves" crashed through the building.
Dramatic footage captured huge waves crashing into a United States military building in the Marshall Islands on Saturday, January 20 (@worldmaverick via Storyful)
"I saw my friends disappear right in front of my eyes," Hanson said. "More waves kept coming. Everyone responded to the emergency scenario and thankfully no one was seriously hurt."
Officials say no one was killed, and only one person was injured.
The National Weather Service in Guam had issued a High Surf Warning for the Marshall Islands from Saturday afternoon through Sunday for "dangerously large breaking waves of 10 to 15 feet." The warning also predicted some minor inundation along shorelines facing north near times of high tides.
Eighty of the approximately 120 personnel living on the base were evacuated. The Army relocated all Roi residents until services are restored.
The Café Roi dining facility was heavily flooded in the storm. (U.S. Army)
"Clearing the runway on Roi-Namur and assessing its safety is our top priority now that we have evacuated personnel not required for the initial response efforts," said Col. Drew Morgan, USAG–KA Garrison commander. "Once the runway is open, we can move people and equipment back and forth to start the recovery process."
The waves were so big that they damaged the base and two nearby airports on the Marshall Islands.
The island is the second-largest island of the Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
"Roi-Namur represents the tip of Kwajalein’s spear," Morgan said. "Roi residents are a special part of the Team Kwaj family. The workforce and community have mounted an impressive support response. I am very proud to be part of Team Kwaj."
What are rogue waves?
Rogue, freak, or killer waves have been part of marine folklore for centuries, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), but have only been accepted as real by scientists over the past few decades.
"Rogues, called 'extreme storm waves' by scientists, are those waves which are greater than twice the size of surrounding waves, are very unpredictable, and often come unexpectedly from directions other than prevailing wind and waves," NOAA states.
A rogue wave estimated at 60 feet in the Gulf Stream off of Charleston, South Carolina. At the time, surface winds were light at 15 knots, according to NOAA. The wave was moving away from the ship after crashing into it moments before this photo was
Most reports of rogues describe them as "walls of water" with steep sides and deep troughs, NOAA adds.
Rogue waves are not very common, which is why there isn't a lot of data on them, according to NOAA. Researchers are still trying to figure out exactly how and when rogue waves form.