Tropical Storm Darby faded away yesterday as the center of circulation passed south of Hawaii’s Big Island; however, an unrelated swell originating from the Southern Hemisphere continues to smash into Hawaii, sending 10-20′ swells to south-facing shorelines throughout the state. With rough surf continuing to pound the Aloha State, county and state officials have extended the closure of beach parks throughout Hawaii to protect people from the angry seas.
On Hawaii’s Big Island, authorities announced the most beach/park closures, with Isaac Hale in Puna, Punalu`u and Whittington-Honu`apo in Ka‘ū, and Miloli`i, Ho`okena, Manini Point-Napo`opo`o, Honaunau Boat Ramp, Kahalu`u, Magic Sands-La`aloa, Pahoehoe, Honls, Hale Halawai, and Old Kona Airport in Kona all closed for the second day in a row. Authorities said some beaches could be closed for another day while clean-up of debris is made on area beaches from the remnants of Darby and the ongoing swell event.
At around sunset yesterday, debris was confused for a distressed swimmer, scrambling rescue crews until the matter could be squared away. The Hawaii Fire Department responded to an incident initially reported as a water rescue event offshore of Kohanaiki Beach Club near what locals refer to as “Pine Trees Beach” in Kohanaiki in North Kona. It was initially reported that a male longboarder was in distress in the rough ocean conditions approximately 200 yards offshore off of the beach. Upon further investigation by Hawaii Fire Department Rescue Boat crews and Hawaii Fire Department Chopper 2, it was determined that numerous pieces of driftwood were floating in the water due to high surf and that there were no parties in distress. Nevertheless, that beach park will continue to remain closed while the swell event continues.
Due to the ongoing swell event, the National Weather Service has issued a Small Craft Advisory for the entire state; meanwhile, High Surf Warnings continue for south-facing shores of all islands.
According to the National Weather Service office in Honolulu, Hawaii, surf of 18-24′ is expected today, subsiding to 15-20′ tomorrow, across all south facing shores throughout the state. Due to the surf conditions, a High Surf Warning will remain in effect through 6pm on Monday. The National Weather Service warns, “Expect ocean water occasionally sweeping across portions of beaches, very strong breaking waves, and strong longshore and rip currents. Large breaking waves and strong currents may impact harbor entrances and channels causing challenging boat handling.” They add, ” Significant beach run-up, flooding of beaches that typically remain dry, and overwash in vulnerable low-lying coastal roadways can be expected with this swell, especially near times of high tide.”
The water is unsafe for surfers or swimmers, even expert level athletes. The National Weather Service warns, “Anyone entering the water could face significant injury or death.”
However, many surfers are avoid the warnings, taking advantage of the historic swell event unfolding throughout Hawaii. Knowing that there are people ignoring the strong warning language, the National Weather Service also added a note of caution to boaters. “Boaters should be aware of an increased number of surfers and body boarders utilizing the harbor channel to access surfing areas,” they said in a warning statement.
During the peak of the swell on Saturday, huge waves pounded the coastline near South Point, which is not only the southernmost point in Hawaii, but the southernmost point in the United States. There, the giant surf frothed up the ocean with sea foam, eroding the fragile coastline of its sand and dirt.
Yesterday, Darby passed south of the Big Island as a weak tropical storm. While scattered rain showers fell throughout the Big Island, there was little wind. However, the surf was whipped up –although more so from the swell event than the tropical cyclone.
Beach erosion is winding down, as is the historic #swell here at South Point on #Hawaii‘s Big Island. Bye #Darby! #HIwx pic.twitter.com/fwMmCoHX5E
— the Weatherboy (@theWeatherboy) July 17, 2022
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