Monster Waves Pound Oahu's North Shore

North Shore, Oahu
North Shore, Oahu

(KHNL)  Huge waves closed all beaches on Oahu's famous North Shore on Sunday.

Lifeguards say sets included waves with faces as big as 50 feet.

"Today's a very busy day," said Kerry Atwood, a lifeguard at Waimea Bay. "Thank God we have our rescue craft out in the water today. We've probably done 15 to 25 rescues so far."

Only experts were allowed in the water, but they also struggled in the large sets.

"If you never been out in this kinda surf today, you should stay out of the water," said Atwood. "Some of the top professional surfers have got into trouble today."

Two professional surfers, who are known riding the biggest waves, were among those rescued.

"Made it about 2/3rds of the way out to the lineup, before one of the big sets of the day, kinda cleaned us out," said Brian Emery, one of those rescued. "Broke right in front of us."

Emery isn't a pro, but says he's "very experienced."

"It's definitely a big day," he said. "Watch it from the sand. Don't get ahead of yourself. Don't get into these conditions unless you really know what you're doing."

Ocean Safety Captain Bodo Van Der Leeden says the work of lifeguards Mark Dombrowski and Guy Perry prevented any serious injuries at Waimea. The two stayed in the water on jetskis all day.

"Thank God for the lifeguards," said Emery.

Van Der Leeden say the Super Bowl may have helped. He says there was less traffic on Kamehameha Highway, and less people watching on the beach.

He says waves are forecast to be just as big on Monday, and expects all beaches to remain closed to the public.