Huge ocean waves–100 feet high?

Ask Tom Why

Dear Tom,
I have heard reports of waves 100 feet in height in the ocean. Is such a thing possible? Waves in Lake Michigan can grow to about 22 feet, but 100-footers?
Steve Starapolris, Chicago
Dear Steve,
Stories of huge waves were, for many years, treated as impossible exaggerations. It was not clear how waves would ever be able to grow to the height of 80 or 100 feet. But in 1933 a USS Ramapo crew member measured a wave through triangulation that reached a height of 112 feet. The report has been checked for accuracy – it was correct – and other reliable huge waves reports began to come in with increasing frequency. Eighty-foot waves are now known to develop in “nor’easters” as they oppose 4-mph Gulf Stream currents, growing up to four times the height of waves outside the current.


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