Tags: hawaii | 50-foot | wave | warning

Hawaii 50-Foot Wave Warning Issued as Island Surf Biggest Since '04

By Clyde Hughes   |   Friday, 24 Jan 2014 10:16 AM

Hawaii faced a high surf warning until Friday, after waves as high as 40 to 50 feet slammed into the island of Oahu Wednesday, catching even touring wave watchers off guard along beaches.

CNN reported that while the waves appeared to max out on Wednesday, they were still averaging 30 to 40 feet as of Thursday. Sam Houston, of the National Weather Service, said Hawaii had not seen such consistently high waves since 2004.

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KHON-TV reported that one young girl was knocked to the ground on Kauai beach after one of the big waves caught a family off guard. 

"We had to tell over a hundred tourists yesterday to move back," witness Terry Lilley said. "They were going to get washed away. Then when those waves wash up, they panic and scream, and the parents of that little girl were screaming."

HawaiiNewsNow.com reported that lifeguards were forced to close Haleiwa Boat Harbor and Ali'I Beach Park because of waves that made the Waianae Boat Harbor impassible Tuesday. 

Honolulu Ocean Safety Spokesperson Shayne Enright said that tourists should be extra careful along the beaches because of the stronger than usual waves.

"A picture is worth a thousand words and these pictures (of big waves) are just plain scary," Enright said. "Fortunately, everything worked out ok in this case, but it could have been worse."

Kauai Ocean Safety said that while there were several close calls during Wednesday's large waves, there were no reports of missing tourists.

"That tragedy is what we work so hard to avoid and not let happen," Jim Ingham, Kauai Ocean Safety, said.

"The National Weather Service has told us that this is a once in a 10-year period high surf event," Melvin Kaku, director for the Hawaii Department of Emergency Management told Hawaii News Now. "What increases the hazard is the forecasted wave heights in combination with the long duration these swells will be impacting our shorelines.

"The long duration (of big waves) means that ocean waters will pile up in the surf zone allowing the larger waves to impact further into beach areas. This battering effect can cause increased shoreline erosion and damage to homes and infrastructure as well as blocking coastal highways with sand, debris and water," Kaku continued.

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