Monster swell slowly dropping, but still, dangerous conditions remain
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Monster surf topping out at 45 feet rolled into Oahu’s North Shore on Monday, triggering safety warnings and keeping lifeguards busy. Similar sized swells are expected to continue Tuesday.
Ocean Safety officials prohibited all recreational swimming on the North Shore, and said the surf was just too dangerous for most oceangoers.
Over the course of the day, some 34 people were rescued from North Shore beaches, and lifeguards performed more than 1,700 preventive actions.
On the west side, lifeguards rescued 68 people and conducted 865 preventive actions.
"We’ve had multiple rescues of surfers in distress at Waimea Bay,” said Honolulu Ocean Safety Lt. Kerry Atwood.
Crews also responded to a Jet Ski that got into trouble outside Sharks Cove.
“We did tow them partially back to the harbor and handed them off to HFD,” said Atwood.
“We ask you to please stay off of wet rocks. Stay back from wet sand. Do you not crossed caution tape. Abide bye warning signs and most importantly listen to your lifeguard.”
The impressive swell is the largest so far this season, drawing thousands of spectators from all over the island.
“It’s just nuts. It would be a death wish to get out there on a surfboard,” said Kailua resident Stephen Peters.
Roadside shoulders were clogged with people bringing traffic to a crawl on portions of Kamehameha Highway.
At Sunset Beach, waves flattened some of the shrubbery that was recently planted in an attempt to restore the dune.
"I hope it doesn’t erode away like it did last year," said Peters.
North Shore resident Gilbert Jacoby was sweeping sand from the bike path in the area, and said he wasn’t sure whether the new plants would last the winter.
“Mother Nature will dictate what’s going to be or not be," he said.
The massive swell also prompted the World Surf League to call off the Vans World Cup competition. And on Maui, the surf was also too big for the JAWS Surf Challenge at Peahi, forcing organizers to put the event on hold until Tuesday.
The National Weather Service has issued a high surf warning for north and west-facing shores of Niihau, Kauai, Oahu and Molokai as well as the north-facing shores of Maui.
The warning is in effect until 6 p.m. Tuesday, and forecasters warns that wave heights could be life-threatening.
A high surf advisory is in also effect Monday for the north and west shores of the Big Island.
The big surf on Oahu’s North Shore comes as beaches continue to disappear amid rising sea levels and worsening coastal erosion. Over the summer, the state helped homeowners at Ehukai Beach take temporary steps to protect their homes, putting up soft erosion control systems in hopes of keeping sand in place.
Meanwhile, forecasters also said the swell could cause surges in north-facing harbors, as well as breaking waves in harbor entrances. Boaters should use caution when entering or leaving harbors or when mooring or launching vessels.
This story will be updated.
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