Waves with faces up to 30-feet tall rolled into Ha’ena and Hanalei overnight Sunday, and yesterday forced county water safety officials to close all North Shore beaches.
A high-wave warning for all north- and west-facing shores remains in effect.
The county’s beach parks at Ha’ena and Hanalei will likely remain closed today, as National Weather Service forecasters in Honolulu predicted continuing waves large enough to trigger the continued high-surf warning (minimum waves with 25-foot faces).
The warning was issued Monday, and was expected to continue in effect throughout most of today, said the lead forecaster in the Honolulu NWS office said.
A storm system far to the north caused the huge swells to move in, and they came ashore Monday morning, he said.
The storm north of Kaua’i is not associated with either Hurricane Huko far south of the islands and moving west, nor Tropical Storm Lowell, far southeast of Hawai’i and also not expected to have any impact on the islands, he continued.
The monster swell here was expected eventually, but its strength and rapid arrival came as a bit of a surprise. On Sunday, waves were two to four feet at Hanalei, with wave faces between three and eight feet, before growing overnight to 30-foot faces, or waves 10 to 20 feet high according to local surfer measurements, said Norman Hunter, Kaua’i Fire Department Ocean Safety Bureau supervisor.
Hanalei lifeguards spotted waterspouts (tornadoes over water) off Pu’u Poa Point, where the Princeville hotel stands, Hunter said.
Because of sloppy ocean conditions due to Kaua’i’s proximity to the storm, North Shore lifeguards stationed at Ha’ena Beach Park and Hanalei Beach Park yesterday kept all inexperienced ocean-goers away from the water, while Hunter took to the commercial radio airwaves to warn visitors of the ocean danger.
Posting warning signs and combing beaches looking for potential dangers are among lifeguard duties on days like Monday and today, Hunter said.
The storm brought cloudy conditions with some rainfall yesterday, and weather today and tomorrow is expected to be partly cloudy, with morning showers giving way to clear afternoons, according to NWS forecasters.