Why is the pull of the surf as waves recede stronger on ocean surf on the Atlantic Coast than the pull of surf on Lake Michigan?

Weather Blog

Dear Tom,


Why is the pull of the surf as waves recede stronger on ocean surf on the Atlantic Coast than the pull of surf on Lake Michigan?

Ian Whitter,
Chicago


Dear Ian,
Water surges toward shore when wave crests come onshore, whether on oceans or on Lake Michigan, followed by a corresponding offshore movement. What’s different in the ocean is the extended period of time the offshore movement of water takes. This occurs because ocean waves have developed over a much longer distance and are farther apart. Time the arrival of waves of similar height on oceans and on Lake Michigan and you’ll find as much as 14 seconds in ocean waves, but less time on Lake Michigan waves. Since ocean waves are farther apart than lake waves, water flows offshore for a longer period of time.

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