North swell prompts high surf warning for Big Island shores


The National Weather Service in Honolulu has issued a high surf warning for the Big Island’s north- and east-facing shores through 6 p.m. Wednesday. Some north-facing shores along the North Kona coast will also see high surf.

The combination of a powerful low pressure system north of the Hawaiian islands and a strong high pressure system far to the northwest has generated a large north swell that is forecast to build tonight and peak on Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

The service forecast waves ranging in height from 25 to 35 feet along for the island’s north-facing shores and 15 to 20 feet along east-facing shores. The coastline from Upolu Point in North Kohala to Richardson Beach Park in Hilo will feel the brunt of the high surf, said National Weather Service Senior Meteorologist Tom Birchaud.

A portion of the Kona coastline, from Keahole Point to Kiholo Bay, is also forecast to see high surf, Birchaud said. The service forecast waves ranging in height from 15 feet to 25 feet.

Birchaud said Kona will see some of the surf because the swell will travel through the Alenuihaha Channel and catch the exposed north-facing shores, particularly near Kekaha Kai State Park.

The service categorized the surf’s impact as “very high” warning that waves may sweep across portions of beaches, roadways, coastal benches and lava flows.

Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Daryl Oliveira said with the high surf expected to continue through Wednesday, Hilo Bayfront Highway will likely remain closed for the next 24 to 36 hours. The road was closed Sunday night and remained closed Tuesday afternoon.

The National Weather Service also warned of powerful longshore and rip currents and that breaking waves may impact harbors making navigating the harbor channel dangerous. It further cautioned inexperienced swimmers to remain out of the water and off beaches and adjacent beachfront areas.