Huge surf expected on Friday

The number of recent drownings, and huge swells that prompted Kaua’i Fire Department Ocean Safety Bureau leaders to close North Shore beaches, should serve as warnings to beach-goers to check with lifeguards before entering the water, a KFD Ocean Safety Bureau supervisor said.

Visitors especially should check with life-guards before entering the water, because the lifeguards have the latest information on swells, whether the waves are increasing or decreasing in size, currents, high and low tides, submerged coral, and other “subtle” information all ought to know before getting into the water, said Kaleo Ho’okano, KFD Ocean Safety Bureau co-supervisor.

Many visitors, caught unaware of the dangers of the ocean by the awesome physical beauty, bright sunshine and inviting waters, sometimes fall prey to lulls in between sets, creating a false sense of security, he said.

“They’re unaware,” Ho’okano said of many visitors. When they’re aware, they’re more careful, he said.

Residents and lifeguards do their best to try to warn visitors about the dangers of winter surf on Kaua’i, which yesterday reached high-surf-warning heights of up to 25 feet on the North Shore, he continued.

Another large swell is expected to arrive by this Friday, Dec. 3o, with the potential of high-surf-warning heights again, according to National Weather Service forecasters.

“We’ll see,” said Ho’okano, cautioning that there will be several high-surf episodes along the west and north shores between now and March. “At least if we get the word out, that helps.”

Having access to beaches at the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands near Kekaha closed except to those with permits is a good thing, he said.

Visitors without permits are not allowed on the base, and most of those who hold permits to go to Major’s Bay and surf are “experienced surfers,” he said.

“That helps out a lot,” to keep most visitors out of the waters on the base, he said.

There are no lifeguards there, though security guards at the entrance gate warn beach-goers of high-surf and current conditions.

Yesterday, surf heights were only around 4 to 8 feet on the Westside, with sets of 10 to 25 feet at Hanalei Bay and other North Shore beaches, Ho’okano said.

Small-craft advisories were also posted yesterday due to large open-ocean swells, according to National Weather Service forecasters.

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