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'Square Waves' That Are So Dangerous You Should Get Out Of The Sea Immediately

Shola Lee

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'Square Waves' That Are So Dangerous You Should Get Out Of The Sea Immediately

As summer fast approaches, a fair few of us will be flocking to the beach, but if you see 'square waves' you should get out of the water straight away.

Why? Well, despite this watery phenomenon looking cool, it's actually very dangerous.

Also known as 'cross seas' the wave pattern occurs when two separate weather conditions collide while moving in different directions.

So, if you're caught in the middle of a 'cross seas' you could find two sets of waves smashing into you simultaneously.

This, as you can imagine, is pretty horrendous and nothing like the rapids we all grew up loving.

While we were hoping cross seas would be few and far between, a study found that the sea state is actually pretty common.

And users on Reddit echoed these findings, with one person writing: "I used to be on surf team in high school and spent a lot of time in the ocean, these were actually not too rare. It was pretty common."

Another weighed in saying: "Same – I was pretty excited the first time I saw them while coastal sailing. Then over the next three years I realized how common they were. It's just two different wave patterns in the same place. It happens a lot."


So, the wave phenomenon is clearly pretty common and should be taken seriously, with other Reddit users affirming just how dangerous they are: "If I recall this is dangerous because you are pulled from two different direction thus more easier to be tired from trying to swim back to the shore."

Another said: "A better way to explain what they said (though this usually isn’t a god damn volcano or tsunami? No idea what that guy is on about) is that this is the sign of a riptide. Incredibly dangerous as the others said, you’d be more likely to live in a whirlpool than this."

Lifeboat rescuing people off the coast of Newquay, Cornwall. Credit: Alamy
Lifeboat rescuing people off the coast of Newquay, Cornwall. Credit: Alamy

We know that all sounds pretty scary, but as long as you stay away from square waves and look to lifeguards for instructions you can stay safe this summer.

As the Red Cross says: "Swimmers are urged to swim only at a beach with a lifeguard and obey all instructions from the lifeguards."

"Ensure that everyone in the family becomes water competent. That is, learn to swim well, know your limitations and how to recognize and avoid hazards, and understand how to help prevent and respond to emergencies around water."

Featured Image Credit: Michel Griffon (Creative Commons)

Topics: Weather, World News

Shola Lee
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