Dangerous conditions in the water and on shore as ‘historic’ south swell rolls in

A huge south swell created dangerous surf conditions Saturday, with lifeguards making hundreds of rescues throughout the day.
Published: Jul. 15, 2022 at 5:11 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 17, 2022 at 5:33 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A huge south swell created dangerous surf conditions Saturday, with lifeguards making hundreds of rescues throughout the day and water inundating oceanfront properties.

In Keauhou on Hawaii Island, huge waves pummeled a seaside housing development, sending huge torrents of water rushing into townhomes and a nearby parking lot.

In video of the scene, water could be seen crashing over the rooftops of the two-story development.

The extent of the destruction was not immediately clear, but resident Isabella Sloan shared photos of significant damage to at least one home’s foundation. She also shared photos of the mess left behind in her living room, where furniture and fixtures had been tossed around the floor was covered in sand.

“The current and waves got really big around 4 to 5 p.m. and didn’t calm down until around 10:45 p.m.,” Sloane said. “My condo was hit the first time and flooded everything. Condos down the way from mine were completely wiped out and damaged really badly. Thankfully, everyone is safe.”

On Oahu, the high surf forced authorities to close the eastbound lane of Farrington Highway on the Waianae Coast in several spots Saturday. Witness video captured a wave nearly engulfing a car on the roadway.

At Brennecke’s Beach on Kauai, large waves could be seen rolling onto both lanes of the roadway.

South shores were expected to see wave heights up to 24 feet in the swell, which peaked Saturday night.

The National Weather Service called the swell “historic” and has issued a high surf warning for the south-facing shores of all islands through Monday morning.

Another big concern Saturday were the dangerous conditions for swimmers and surfers.

Ocean Safety said lifeguards made at least 319 rescues across Oahu shores and 7,500 preventive actions. Most were on the south shore, where lifeguards counted at least 228 rescues.

Ahead of the swell, first responders urged only the most experienced surfers to head into the waves.

“It’s not a time to just go and play. It’s going to be a serious south swell with a lot of water moving,” said Kurt Lager, acting chief of operations for Honolulu Ocean Safety.

Ocean Safety added extra rescue units to south shores, anticipating the busy weekend.

“As far as surfing, it’s a day for people who are experienced and know what they’re doing,” Lager said.

Ocean enthusiasts flocked to the surf Saturday to ride the big waves.

“We’re all pretty stoked for this swell,” said bodysurfer Dominick Nicholas. “I barely got any sleep last night. I just kept thinking about how awesome it’s going to be when the sun comes up.”

Added another surfer: ”It was gnarly. It was absolutely crazy.”

National Weather Service forecasters said the swell was coming in during a period of higher-than-normal tides. Former Tropical Storm Darby, to the south of the state, could also be kicking up wave heights.

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