• Tue. May 24th, 2022

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Ocean waves from a tropical storm could be focused like laser beams

Computer modelling of cyclone Mekunu, which hit the coast of Oman in 2018, reveals that ocean currents may have focused waves from the storm into straight beams that hit the coast of India and Pakistan

Physics 3 March 2022

Debris litters a beach after cyclone Mekunu hit Salalah, Oman in May 2018

Debris litters a beach after cyclone Mekunu hit Salalah, Oman, in May 2018

Kamran Jebreili/AP/Shutterstock

If conditions are right, the high waves produced by a tropical storm can be focused like laser beams, travelling more than 1000 kilometres to hit distant coasts – though tracing such waves back to their source will be a challenge.

Normally, the waves produced by a tropical storm radiate out like those of a stone dropped in a pond, diminishing as their energy gets spread out over larger circles. But when Rui Sun at the Scripps Institution of …