How to use this information:
Many things affect the actual “breaking wave height” including Wave Direction, Wave Period and Ocean Contour.
The biggest thing that effects a breaking wave is the period. Although there is a lot to the science of this the basic concept is as follows. The longer the period the further apart the waves are. Therefore there is more water in between the front of the wave and the back. As the wave approaches shallower and shallower water the front of the wave slows down faster than the back does. And since all of this water/energy needs somewhere to go. It actually starts to compress and drive the peak of the wave higher and higher. In general the longer the wave period the bigger wave and the more power it will have. For example a 5 ft wave with a 10 second period may break at a height of somewhere between 5-7 feet while a 5 ft wave at 20 seconds could break at a height of over 10 ft depending on the contour of the ocean floor.