Lifeguards busy with massive surf pounding most north-, west-facing shores

A high surf warning is currently in effect for north- and west-facing shores of Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, and Molokai, for north-facing shores of Maui, and for west-facing shores of Hawaii Island.

It is in effect until 6 p.m. Thursday.

Forecasters say the current northwest swell will produce very large and dangerous surf, and waves could reach the following heights:

  • 40-50 feet Wednesday night along north- and west-facing shores of Niihau and Kauai, lowering to 15-25 feet Thursday.
  • 35-45 feet Wednesday night along north-facing shores of Oahu, Molokai and Maui, lowering to 15-25 feet Thursday
  • 20-30 feet Wednesday night along west-facing shores of Oahu and Molokai, lowering to 16-24 feet Thursday.

Expect ocean water surging and sweeping across beaches and roadways, creating the potential for impacts to coastal properties and infrastructure. Powerful longshore and rip currents will be present at most beaches.

At Laniakea Beach on Oahu’s North Shore, the waves have been massive with lots of people taking pictures on the beach. The area attracts visitors who want to see the waves up close.

Waimea Bay saw a lot of action in the water, where conditions were dangerous for the inexperienced.

The lifeguard captain says waves were 20-25 feet Hawaiian style.

Lifeguards from Kahuku to Haleiwa Alii Beach Park were extremely busy, warning people on the beach to stay clear of waves pounding the shoreline.

Ocean Safety officials reported Wednesday 55 rescues and 2,800 preventative measures on the North Shore, and three rescues and 780 preventative measures along the west shore.

“If they don’t know, the wave comes up and hits them like a train, fast. It will wipe you off your feet,” said Haleiwa resident William Herron.

Three Tables was also massive. Lifeguards and the Honolulu Fire Department responded to a call for swimmers in distress, but they were able to get out okay.

John Carper of JC Hawaii is known as one of the top surfboard shapers in the world. He showed us one of the many big-wave boards he shaped for Hawaii Island pro surfer Shane Dorian.

“Big wave guys and all the gnarly guys, they are loving it. This would be a year where you can totally get into riding big waves even like 8-, 10-, 12-, 15-foot,” Carper said.

Carper says surf has not only been huge, but too powerful for amateurs.

“As far as the business, it’s been good and bad. I get more orders of these, but they don’t make up for the lack of small boards. We actually make money for the little six-footers, the fun boards,” he said.

Lifeguards say Honolulu’s Department of Emergency Management has been on scene helping with crowd control.

When waves get big, traffic on the North Shore makes it difficult for first responders responding to calls, they explain.

Lifeguards at Waimea Bay will stay until it gets dark to make sure all the surfers get in okay.

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