Saturday, December 29, 2001

North Shore beaches from Haleiwa to Waimea Bay were closed earlier this week as huge waves battered coastlines. Only expert surfers, such as this one getting blown off the top of a wave at Waimea Bay on Wednesday, dared go in the water.

North Shore braces
for second wave
of big waves

25-footers are expected just days
after the last swell battered
northwestern coasts

By Gary Kubota

North Shore businessman Greg Gerstenberger worries about the potential impact of high waves upon 10 beach bungalows he manages and said he is thinking of putting up plywood boards to protect glass jalousies.

"Right now, I'm kind of in limbo," said Gerstenberger, who lives along Ke Iki Road in Haleiwa.

Along northwest shores of the Hawaiian Islands, residents are bracing for waves from 20 to 25 feet forecast for tomorrow afternoon.

It is the second surge of big waves expected in less than a week, and has led the National Weather Service to once again post high-surf advisories for all northwest coastal areas in Hawaii.

Service forecaster Wyman Au said the high waves in the northern Pacific are caused by storms that are typically stronger and move closer to the Hawaiian Islands during the winter.

Oahu Civil Defense spokesman Wayne Jones said earlier this week that high waves eroded portions of coastal roads in the northern communities of Haleiwa, Hauula and Laie but did not shut off traffic.

Jones said the high surf generated this week has eroded beaches and created undertow and choppy ocean conditions.

Jones warned visitors to stay out of the water during high surf, even though they see surfers entering the ocean.

"These people in the water have grown up doing it," he said.

The high waves from the north have had a wrap-around effect along southern shores, where waves have been rising to 3 to 5 feet in some areas.

Two visitors drowned in separate incidents in waters off Waikiki beach earlier this week.

Honolulu ocean safety official James Howe said lifeguards are focusing on preventive measures to reduce the need for ocean rescues.

Howe said there has been a spillover of snorklers at Hanauma Bay, and some have moved farther south to Sandy Beach, a body-surfing area. He said lifeguards have been encouraging snorklers to go to Waimanalo.

On Kauai, state officials are warning campers along the Na Pali Coast to stay out of the ocean.

"I tell the people during the winter months, I don't expect you to go swimming in the water. It's too rough," said Clayton Kawada, a state parks supervisor on Kauai.

Bruce Butts, the Big Island Civil Defense administrator, said the waves were no more than 8 feet high earlier this week, and there was no damage to property.

"We're going to, of course, keep an eye on it," he said.

On Maui a surfer needed help from lifeguards Thursday in waters off Kahului, as waves rose to 12 feet and occasionally 15 feet.

In Haleiwa, Gerstenberger recalled that high waves demolished one of his bungalows in 1985, and water has gone into units in the last two to three years. He said with a full moon coming soon, he is worried the waves could be higher.

Gerstenberger said the worst waves are the ones that come simultaneously from the west and north and combine into one giant swell.

"They are the ones that do property damage," he said.

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