Severe Sunset Beach erosion could cause cliff’s catastrophic collapse
  • Saturday, November 17, 2018
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Severe Sunset Beach erosion could cause cliff’s catastrophic collapse

  • COURTESY HONOLULU OCEAN SAFETY AND LIFEGUARD SERVICES DIVISION

    Extreme erosion has created a hazardous condition at Sunset Beach on the North Shore of Oahu.

  • COURTESY HONOLULU OCEAN SAFETY AND LIFEGUARD SERVICES DIVISION

    An Ocean Safety storage room was teetering over a 20-foot drop at Sunset Beach. City officials warned the public today to avoid Sunset Beach because of the extreme erosion.

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The severly eroding cliffside and shoreline at Sunset Beach Park has reached “unprecedented levels,” prompting city officials to urge the public to stay away due to safety concerns.

A small chunk of the bike path along Sunset Beach has fallen into the shore break, according to Jim Howe, director of the Honolulu Department of Emergency Services. The public is also being asked not to walk down the 10-foot cliffside or smaller cliffs, which causes foot erosion.

“The 20-foot cliffs is very unstable and we’re asking folks to stay away,” said Howe. “It can collapse and if it collapses, it can be pretty catastrophic.”

City crews today removed the concrete rubble as well as a storage shed used to house lifeguards’ equipment, given that was teetering on the edge of a 20-foot drop, and posed a safety hazard. They were planning to relocate the storage shed, and then break up the concrete foundation and transport it away.

Meanwhile, parking will be restricted at Sunset Beach and the state plans to put up barricades along the makai side of Kamehameha Highway in the area. The bike path has been moved further mauka, so motorists are advised to watch out for bicyclists and pedestrians closer to the roadway.

“I know the waves are magnificent, but please, try to refrain from stopping and causing any delay on that highway,” said Jon Nouchi, Deputy Director of Department of Transportation Services.

Although this is not the first time erosion has occurred at Sunset Beach, it is the most severe and furthest inland that city and state officials have ever seen it. Coastal geologist Dolan Eversole said it has reached “unprecedented levels” and is a chronically eroding shoreline.

An incoming, north-northwest swell over the next few weeks is expected to cause further instability and erosion.

“The city and state, working together, are closely monitoring the situation almost hourly and pre-planning what we can do to keep the public safe,” said Howe.

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