What is the greatest height on the world’s oceans?

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Dear Tom,
Maximum wave heights on Lake Michigan are about 20 feet. What is the greatest height on the world’s oceans?


Christopher Chou

Dear Christopher,
Wave heights of 70 to 90 feet have been reported, but never confirmed. However, the record significant wave height confirmed by the World Meteorological Organization Commission for Climatology’s Extremes Evaluation Committee is 62.3 feet. (“Significant wave height” is an average of waves measured by an instrument, the committee says.) It was recorded Feb. 4, 2013, by a buoy in the North Atlantic Ocean between Iceland and Great Britain, and occurred following the passage of a very strong cold front that produced winds of 50 mph over the area. The Committee, which consists of scientists from the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Spain, classified it as “the highest significant wave height as measured by a buoy.”