At Waimea Bay Beach Park, lifeguard Glenn Wachtel, left, advised people to stay out of the dangerous shorebreak yesterday as surf reached advisory levels.

Big waves

Courtesy of a strong storm off
Japan, heavy surf keeps lifeguards
busy on Oahu's North Shore

The big surf that kept Oahu's North Shore lifeguards busy yesterday with at least 11 rescues should continue through the weekend, forecasters say.

The National Weather Service has posted a high-surf advisory effective through today for the north and west shores of Kauai, Maui, Molokai and Oahu.

Forecaster Henry Lau said residents can expect waves heights on Oahu's North Shore to peak today at about 23 feet, with most sets between 15 and 20 feet.

Nicole Foras moved to heed the warning.

Yesterday, Kauai officials closed beaches between Haena and Kee because of the big waves. Lifeguards on Oahu say they will decide whether to close beaches late this morning.

"It's not really giant," said city Ocean Safety Division dispatcher Rod Alderton, "(but) it's dangerous and there's long lulls, so the water's all blue and looks tranquil."

Alderton's office was flooded with calls for assistance yesterday, and North Shore lifeguards were working overtime until dusk to keep people out of the water.

Off Mokuleia yesterday, a man sustained head injuries while surfing in waves with 8- to 12-foot faces.

By the time the man was rescued, the surf had increased to 10- to 16-foot faces, according to Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services Lt. John Hoogsteden.

The man was surfing about 300 to 400 yards offshore of Crozier Drive, Hoogsteden said. Fellow surfers rescued the man, who is in his late 30s or early 40s.

Fire Capt. Kenison Tejada said the surfers brought the man past the break, and lifeguards brought him to shore.

At a beach just north of Shark's Cove, another man standing on the beach was swept off his feet by the surf. Hoogsteden said bodyboarders helped the man, who was taken to Kahuku Hospital for evaluation.

Surf reached advisory levels yesterday, and only experts were allowed to enter the ocean at Waimea Bay Beach Park.

Ocean Safety also reported three rescues at Sunset Beach, three at Waimea Bay and one each at Waialua and Ke Iki. Alderton said one kayaker needed rescuing off Haleiwa.

Lau said the high surf was caused by a strong storm off the coast of Japan that passed north of the islands several days ago.

"There will be a series of storms for the next several days," which translates to a steady stream of high waves, he said.

Lifeguards from other parts of the island will be on North Shore beaches today to help out, Alderton said. But more lifeguards does not mean it is safe to go in the water, he stressed.

"People should never depend on us anyway for their safety," he said.


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