What is a whitecap?

A whitecap is the white, foamy portion formed upon the crest of a wave. They are commonly observed by ocean beach goers; as waves approach shore they begin to crest and break: forming whitecaps. Other, more dangerous oppertunities to observe whitecaps in the wild is during a powerful weather event.

When the wind whips up the tops of waves faster than the wave energy can travel through the water, they break at sea-- causing whitecaps-- and dangerous sailing!

The Simple Physics of Whitecaps:

When the height of a wave meets or exceeds the length of the wave divided by seven, the wave will form a whitecap and break. This can be expressed by the formula:

H = L/7; If H > 1, the wave will break.

White"cap` (?), n.

1. Zool. (a)

The European redstart; -- so called from its white forehead.

(b)

The whitethroat; -- so called from its gray head.

(c)

The European tree sparrow.

2.

A wave whose crest breaks into white foam, as when the wind is freshening.

 

© Webster 1913.


White"cap` (?), n.

A member of a self-appointed vigilance committee attempting by lynch-law methods to drive away or coerce persons obnoxious to it. Some early ones wore white hoods or masks. [U. S.] -- White"cap`, v. -- White"cap`per (#), n.

 

© Webster 1913

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