Fluctuations in the significant wave height can be quantified by using scaling statistics. In this paper, the scaling properties of the significant wave height were explored by using a large data set of hourly series from 25 monitoring stations located off the west coast of the US. Detrended fluctuation analysis (DFA) was used to investigate the scaling properties of the series. DFA is a robust technique that can be used to detect long-range correlations in nonstationary time series. The significant wave height data was analyzed by using scales from hourly to monthly. It was found that a common scaling behavior can be observed for all stations. A breakpoint in the scaling region around 4-5 days was apparent. Spectral analysis confirms this result. This breakpoint divided the scaling region into two distinct parts. The first part was for finer scales (up to 4 days) which exhibited Brown noise characteristics, while the second one showed 1/f noise behavior at coarser scales (5 days to 1 month). The first order and the second order DFA (DFA1 and DFA2) were used to check the effect of seasonality. It was found that there were no differences between DFA1 and DFA2 results, indicating that there is no effect of trends in the wave height time series. The resulting scaling coefficients range from 0.696 to 0.890 indicating that the wave height exhibits long-term persistence. There were no coherent spatial variations in the scaling coefficients. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.