HONOLULU (KHON2) — On Friday evening, the National Weather Service said buoy readings surged well above predicted levels, which led to most North Shore beaches being completely washed out and the majority of surf spots maxed out on Saturday, Jan. 22.
Dozens of surfers went to Waimea Bay early Saturday to take advantage of the surf conditions. While some made it out, others did not make it past the shore break.
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“We’ve been busy. We’ve had multiple surfers at Waimea Bay needing assistance from our rescue unit and had to be brought back to the beach,” explained Honolulu Ocean Safety Lt. Kerry Atwood. “And we did have a jet ski that got into some trouble earlier in the day in the Laniakea area.”
As of 4:30 p.m. Saturday, lifeguards made 53 rescues with the majority being at Waimea Bay. Ocean Safety said there were nearly 7,000 preventative actions and warnings given to keep spectators and beachgoers safe.
Waves topped out around 50-feet at face value on Oahu’s North Shore early Saturday morning and with the early morning high tide, ocean water swept across Kamehameha Highway at places like Laniakea and Rock Pile.
“We’re not taking any chances today. We have caution tape up, signs posted, we have mobile patrols, lifeguards on ATVS, two rescue units actively patrolling the surf, one on land and lieutenants in trucks,” Lt. Atwood continued.
Lifeguards reminded people who disobeyed warning signs and went around the caution tape that one wave could put them in a life-threatening situation in an instant.
“Please stay on the beaten path,” Lt. Atwood said. “It’s important for you and your family to view the big surf from a guarded beach. Stay on beaten path and avoid secluded beaches, especially ones that have become big on social media because if you get into trouble, you’re going to rely on a mobile responder and that could take some time.”
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The extra-large swell is on its way down but will still be dangerous for inexperienced surfers through Sunday, Jan. 23.