Weather service keeps surf warning in effect


POSTED: Monday, December 07, 2009

After taking a breather yesterday, giant waves were expected to return to the north- and west-facing shores and wrap around to the east-facing shores of most of the islands overnight and remain through Wednesday.

The city Department of Emergency Management, in concert with the Red Cross, opened shelters on the North Shore and in Waianae in anticipation of high surf last night and today.

North Shore residents who need emergency shelter can go to Liliuokalani Church in Haleiwa or the Sunset Beach Community Center. The Waianae shelter is at Waianae District Park.

Shelters will accept pets, but they must be on leashes or in pet carriers or cages.

Surf hitting the islands was below the 30- to 40-foot warning level for the north shores and the 20- to 30-foot warning level for west shores yesterday, but the National Weather Service kept the high-surf warning in place in anticipation of rising wave heights last night, said lead forecaster Tim Craig.

The high-surf warning was for the north and west shores of Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai and Maui.

A high tide last night and early this morning was expected to add two feet to the surf heights.

The weather service also kept in place yesterday a high-surf advisory for Oahu's eastern shore and the Big Island's coastline.

City lifeguards said yesterday's surf was in the 10- to 15-foot range with some sets reaching 18 feet.

The smaller surf meant more people entered the ocean, keeping lifeguards busy.

City lifeguards reported one rescue while taking nearly 1,000 preventive actions and conducting numerous assists.

Volunteers from Maui County's Community Emergency Response Team went door to door yesterday distributing fliers to more than 500 homes and businesses in Keanae, Kahakuloa and Paukukalo warning of possible effects of the anticipated high surf. County officials also adjusted staffing in preparation for the high surf affecting near-shore roadways on Maui, Molokai and Lanai.

At 4 p.m. yesterday the weather service upgraded the high-surf advisory to a high-surf warning. And the warning now includes the east-facing shores of the islands. It is in effect until 6 p.m. Wednesday.

The National Weather Service also has in effect a small-craft advisory for all Hawaii waters.

Two Pacific storms northwest of Hawaii are responsible for the ocean swells and high surf, Craig said.