A giant northwest swell continues to impact the state of Hawaii, lashing north facing shores with epic surf not seen in years. In some cases, waves 40-50 feet blasted the north coasts of Oahu, Kauai, Niihau, Molokai, and Maui this weekend . West facing shores are witnessing huge surf too of 25-35 feet. With large, breaking surf, significant shorebreak, and dangerous currents making entering the water extremely hazardous, the National Weather Service in Honolulu, Hawaii continues a High Surf Warning for north and west facing shores of Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, and Molokai and north facing shores of Maui. A High Surf Advisory is also in effect for the north and west facing shores of Hawaii Island, better known as the “Big Island.” Warnings and advisories now run through Tuesday morning.
According to the National Weather Service, the swell is moving down the island chain this weekend. Peak surf hit Oahu yesterday and the Big Island overnight last night, but another large swell is expected to impact the state on Monday. With the next swell, waves up to 45′ are possible once again in the High Surf Warning zone.
The surf could be deadly: the National Weather Service warns with blunt language: “Anyone entering the water could face significant injury or death.” Powerful longshore and rip currents will make beaches death traps while high waves can pound swimmers and surfers into rocks, reefs, and/or each other.
While delighting extreme risk-taking surfers with epic waves, the surf is also making a mess of coastal areas. Ocean water is surging and sweeping across beaches, coastal benches, and lava flows, creating impacts to coastal properties, local roadways, and utility lines. Large breaking waves and strong currents may also impact harbor entrances and channels, causing challenging boat handling.
The north shore surf spot has been made famous in American pop culture; the 1963 Beach Boys’ hit “Surfin’ USA” made it famous and the surf break here has been host to many surfing competitions. In winter months, Waimea and other north shore locations such as Sunset Beach and Pipeline, host surfing contests because large winter storms that form in the North Pacific send swells and waves south to the islands. The normally quiet and peaceful Waimea water during the summer often turns to a violent tempest during the winter months.
Ryan De Seixas of RyzoneMedia.com went out to explore the surf at Oahu’s Waimea Bay. Posting drone videography on his YouTube page, De Seixas captured today’s incredible surf which prompted the warnings from the National Weather Service there and elsewhere in the islands.
“I’d have to say this was the biggest swell since the last Eddie Would Go contest,” videographer Ryan De Seixas told us. “I was born and raised on the north shore of Oahu and this was one of the biggest and most perfect conditions swells I’ve ever seen. Light offshore winds until 1pm is rare here especially with a swell of this size. Waves were as good as it gets on the outer reefs.” De Seixas creates stunning videos around Oahu on the website, RyzoneMedia.com.
While beautiful to watch from a safe distance, the surf is extremely hazardous. While no deaths were reported over the weekend in Hawaii from it, thousands needed assistance due to the surf. Oahu lifeguards rescued 31 on Oahu’s north shore and 58 on the west shore by Saturday afternoon. The lifeguards reported 2,670 preventative actions on the North Shore and 2,500 on the west shores. Fishermen who were fishing on the ocean’s edge also had to be rescued from the giant surf.