Surfers enjoy best winter surf in years - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Surfers enjoy best winter surf in years

Christy Martin Christy Martin
Ray Tanabe Ray Tanabe

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (Hawaii News Now) - Surfers need to say thank you to El Nino. The weather phenomenon is bringing in great surf conditions today and all winter long.

Today was one of those rare February days when surf was better on the south shore than north shore and plenty of people took advantage.

"It was fantastic great fun," said Christy Martin, as she came out of Kewalos carrying her board. "It's a gift for sure on the south shore this time of year, you don't have to make the long drive it's right in your backyard."

This could explain any lack of productivity around the state.

"Everybody took off early today it was crowded out there. I'm on my lunch break and I think everybody else did the same thing. It seems to be maybe a lot of cases of food poisoning going around," laughed Martin, about all the people surfing instead of working.

"What's unusual this season is the amount and the frequency of these high surf episodes," said Ray Tanabe, National Weather Service Forecaster.

The National Weather Service issued high surf warnings or advisories 23 days during December. In January there were 27 days with warnings or advisories, so nearly the entire month had high surf. In a non El Nino year it's more like 10 to 15 days.

"During El Nino years what happens is we tend to get lighter than normal trade winds and that's something we've seen and that combined with the big surf has produced some real good conditions lately," said Tanabe.

That's also a main reason why you saw the Eddie Aikau surf contest go off with monster waves for the first time in 5 years.

"If you go back to past Eddie events there's a pretty good correlation with these real extreme high surf events and El Nino conditions," said Tanabe.

El Nino is great for surfers but not for ranchers because there's less rain.

"Places on the Big Island and parts of Maui depend on getting this routine rainfall during the winter to green up their pastures for livestock," said Tanabe.

It's tough for the surfers to focus on that when they're looking at sets like they've seen this winter.

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