August 11, 2002
6:54 PM   Subscribe

Mention Whirlpools, and people tend to assume you're talking about a Jacuzzi. But not all whirlpools man-made. When powerful tidal currents are forced between a narrow fjord, and then come up against another current traveling in a different direction, the result is a large water vortex. Being tidal means they are predicable. Some of the more famous whirlpools are the Corryvreckian(Scotland), "Old Sow" (Canada), Moskstraumen and Saltstraumen (Norway), and the Naruto (Japan). Notice how they each claim to be the largest of them all. ...Just one more thing to ponder the next time you pull the chain
posted by BentPenguin (14 comments total)
Second link:"Satan tempts each of us with powerful vortexes of pride and lust and drugs and wicked talk and hate."

Those whirlpools don't look that tempting to jump into, do they?

[like how you snuck that straightdope link in there too!]
posted by elphTeq at 9:11 PM on August 11, 2002

Interesting links, though I wish they had better photos. One link stated that the Scotland whirlpool has 15 foot standing waves...that should produce some striking images, far more menacing that those at the Scotland site.
posted by HTuttle at 9:55 PM on August 11, 2002

Here in Down East Maine, we consider Old Sow to be one of us, one of us, and not Canada's. And even the link you chose, BentPenguin, cites its home as Eastport, Maine, although I suppose that natural phenomena do not respect national boundaries. Having said that, I must mention that when I went to see Old Sow, while in the neighborhood, I found it less than memorable, with (to put it crudely) very poor special effects.

By an almost total fluke, a writing assignment took me above the Arctic Circle in Norway a few years ago, and I found myself very near Saltstraumen. Despite the almost 24 hours of sunlight, I didn't take the time to go see it.

(Not to change the subject, but I went to Bodo, Norway to write about a fascinating place, the Norsk Luftfartsmuseum.)
posted by LeLiLo at 9:56 PM on August 11, 2002

Until modern engineering came along, there was a whirlpool in Vancouver Sound that was called one of the vilest stretches of water in the world. Ripple Rock, which often lay just beneath the surface, was blown up in 1958, using a very interesting method.
posted by dhartung at 12:05 AM on August 12, 2002

Last August, Smithsonian magazine published a good article an whirlpools, along with a bunch of extras on their website.
posted by TedW at 4:52 AM on August 12, 2002

Niagara Falls has one, too.
posted by Kellydamnit at 6:25 AM on August 12, 2002

digressing a little: I once met a couple travelling with a bath in Sumatra who were out to test the truth of of the idea that water goes round a plughole clockwise north of the equator and anticlockwise south of it. The bath was on wheels and they were going to roll it backwards and forwards over the equator at a suitable point. Although impressed by the amount of effort they had put into their research, I wasn't able to stay for the actual experiment. I can confirm the clockwise inclinations of northern hemisphere plugholes - can anyone verify the vorticular tendencies of their southern cousins? I would be most grateful.
posted by gravelshoes at 7:28 AM on August 12, 2002

There's also the Skookumchuk Narrows whirlpool, north of Vancouver city, along the Sunshine Coast.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:23 AM on August 12, 2002

Cecil sez clockwise / counter-clockwise draining a myth, as demonstrated at MIT 40 years ago; the Alaska Science Forum, and Australian science Qzone, among other sources, agree.
posted by dhartung at 10:32 AM on August 12, 2002

gravelshoes: The supposed hemispheric draining is a myth: "The boring truth is that water drains every which way no matter what hemisphere you're in, for reasons which have to do mostly with the shape of the drain, the way you poured in the water in the first place, and so on." (Uncle Cecil adds: "But I'm sure the myth of the bathtub spirals will endure. Shapiro did his work in 1962 and I proclaimed it to the world in 1983. Yet next to the mystery of where all the baby pigeons are, this remains the commonest question I get.")
posted by languagehat at 10:32 AM on August 12, 2002

ah good, another one I can put to bed. many thanks.
they must have very disappointed after going to so much effort
posted by gravelshoes at 10:41 AM on August 12, 2002

Every American, between 30 and 40, knows that whirlpools are portals to "The Land of the Lost".
posted by buz46 at 11:28 AM on August 12, 2002

George Orwell wrote 1984 in a house called Barnhill, which is right next to the Corryvreckan on the top end of Jura, he almost died one day whilst out for a row in the Corryvreckan. I have sailed around here and when wind is against tide it is scary, lots of tidal overfalls and very lumpy water.
posted by johnny novak at 12:41 PM on August 12, 2002

I hate lumpy water. You can't even add water to make it less lumpy.
posted by dhartung at 3:46 PM on August 12, 2002

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