This paper describes the generation and verification of four realistic sea states in a multidirectional wave basin, each representing a different storm wave condition in the Gulf of Mexico. In all cases, the degree of wave spreading and the mean direction of wave propagation are strongly dependent on frequency. Two of these sea states represent generic design wave conditions typical of hurricanes and winter storms and are defined by JONSWAP wave spectra and parametric spreading functions. Two additional sea states, representing the specific wave activity during hurricanes Betsy and Carmen, are defined by tabulated hindcast estimates of the directional wave energy spectrum. The Maximum Entropy Method (MEM) of directional wave analysis paired with a single-wave probe/ bi-directional current meter sensor is found to be the most satisfactory method to measure multidirectional seas in a wave basin over a wide range of wave conditions. The accuracy of the wave generation and analysis process is verified using residual directional spectra and numerically synthesized signals to supplement those measured in the basin. Reasons for discrepancy between the measured and target directional wave spectra are explored. By attempting to reproduce such challenging sea states, much has been learned about the limitations of simulating real ocean waves in a multidirectional wave basin, and about techniques which can be used to minimize the associated distortions to the directional spectrum.

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