Lifeguards kept busy as massive swell slams North Shore - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Lifeguards kept busy as massive swell slams North Shore

Image Courtesy: Ocean Safety Image Courtesy: Ocean Safety
Lifeguard watches over Waimea Bay Lifeguard watches over Waimea Bay
Jet skis are vital tools for lifeguards when helping distressed swimmers. Jet skis are vital tools for lifeguards when helping distressed swimmers.
Rough waters on Oahu's north shore. Rough waters on Oahu's north shore.
WAIMEA BAY, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Monster surf attracted big crowds to Oahu's North Shore on Wednesday, and lifeguards weren't taking any chances.

"It is a no swim day so for everybody's safety we need everybody to remain behind our warning signs at all times," a lifeguard told spectators over a loudspeaker at Waimea Bay.

The warnings didn't deter spectators, awed by the waves with 45- to 50-foot faces.

"It's pretty incredible," said Emily Raine.

Jacob Raine usually visits Hawaii in the summer.

"These are the biggest waves I've ever seen," he said. "I've seen a very calm Waimea. I used to jump off that rock over there. Can't do that this year."

Lifeguards rescued nine people from big surf islandwide Wednesday, and conducted more than 2,000 preventive actions.

Four people were rescued from North Shore surf, including two surfers who got into trouble in the big waves.

Five people were rescued from big waves off Leeward Oahu, where surf had 20-foot faces.

The National Weather Service in Honolulu has issued a High Surf Warning – in effect until 6 a.m. Thursday – for north and west shores of Niihau, Kauai, Oahu and Molokai as well as north shores of Maui.

A High Surf Advisory has also been issued for west shores of the Big Island.

Forecasters said surf along north shores was to rise to 35 to 45 feet Wednesday then lower to 20 to 25 feet by Thursday. Surf along west-facing shores was to build to 20 to 30 feet Wednesday, lowering to 12 to 18 feet Thursday.

A second monster swell could be on its heels, as early as next week.

Lifeguard Capt. Vitor Marcal said the big surf is particularly dangerous for people who overestimate their abilities in the waves.

"We have photographers, they just go out swimming with fins and cameras," he said. All were given rides back to shore on Jet Skis.

"The purpose of the ski in the water, it's for our rapid response," he said. "In case an emergency occurs we have them in the water. If somebody breaks a board.  If we have a call some other place they can respond by the water we can be there really quick."

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