Ocean safety calling for caution from beachgoers during big swell

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Twenty to 25 feet tall waves are expected throughout the day on Oahu’s North Shore, this mean high alert for ocean safety and extra caution from beach goers.

Watching large waves coming towards you could intimidate even surfers who have been in the water for more than half of their lives. That is the case for Aaron Clark who is visiting from California, he said he had never surfed waves this size.

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Clark said, “My heart was in my chest racing, thoughts were going through my mind. Am I going to be OK?”

This is the first big swell of the winter. A high surf warning remains in effect through Wednesday morning on Oahu’s west and north facing shores as well as on Molokai, Kauai, Niihau. The same warning in effect on Maui’s north shore.

Honolulu Ocean Safety Lt. Kerry Atwood said lifeguards are staying vigilant.

“We are running a full winter schedule today,” Atwood said. “We have three personnel in all of our permanent lifeguard towers at our beach parks. We have lifeguards on ATVs patrolling the shoreline and we have two rescue units one actively patrolling in the surf and one patrolling on land.”

As of Tuesday late afternoon, lifeguards completed 2,150 preventive actions and six rescues.

Not a lot of surfers were seen at Pipeline, some choosing to try the surf at Waimea instead, that is where almost half of preventive actions took place.

Atwood said the wind conditions were not favorable to surfing, which could explain the low number of rescues with waves this size.

“If we see some lighter winds, we’ll definitely probably see an increase in the number of surfers, which could mean more potential rescues for us today,” Atwood said. “But as of now, if the winds stay the same we’re looking at a probably not be a very busy day hopefully.”

Atwood said even with a staffing shortage, North Shore lifeguard towers were able to be staffed without pulling resources from other parts of the island.

Meanwhile, HPD advised drivers of expected delays due to traffic. Cars parked illegally will be cited or towed.

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“All my life I’ve lived here but never really come out to look,” Kaneohe resident Kurt Mukai said. “So it was an opportunity, hoping the crowd wasn’t going to be that big on a weekday.”

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