Lifeguards toil during big surf
A large swell on the north- and west-facing shores kept Oahu lifeguards busy for two days but is expected to continue declining today.
The northwest swell brought 15- to 20-foot waves to the North Shore yesterday before decreasing to 12 to 18 feet in the afternoon, a city news release said.
It was the second day of larger than 15-foot waves. While the waves will continue decreasing through tomorrow, another large swell is expected to bring even larger waves to north- and west-facing shores Sunday.
Hundreds flocked to the North and West shores to catch a glimpse of the large waves or try to surf them, but lifeguards were busy keeping people out of the water. On the North Shore yesterday, lifeguards took more than 900 preventive actions, with 30 Jet Ski assists and one rescue, according to a news release. It was an increase from the 700 preventive measures the day before, but a decrease from the seven rescues.
"With the declining swell, there was a much higher number of people in the water today versus yesterday," said Bryan Cheplic, Honolulu Emergency Services Department spokesman. "However, lifeguards are trained to handle these types of conditions, so they were able to keep both the surfers and beachgoers safe today."
Cheplic said lifeguards try to be vigilant in protecting ocean users, which explains the higher number of preventive actions compared with the lower number of active rescues.
Along western shorelines, surf started at 12 to 15 feet and dropped to 10 to 12 feet in the afternoon yesterday. Lifeguards took 200 preventive actions and made four active rescues there.
Waves are expected to be 8 to 12 feet on the North Shore today and 6 to 8 feet on the west side. Surf will be 1 to 3 feet today on south- and east-facing shores, according to the National Weather Service in Honolulu.
The next north-northwest swell could produce waves above the warning threshold Sunday, the National Weather Service said. The warning threshold on north-facing shores is 25 feet, and 20 feet for west-facing shores.
The upcoming swell was created by a storm northeast of Japan. A new small south swell is also expected Sunday.