Surfers and tourists take to the water despite beach closures
  • Sunday, December 16, 2018
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Surfers and tourists take to the water despite beach closures

  • SOPHIE COCKE / SCOCKE@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Tourists and experienced surfers alike spent the day in the water in spite of the closure of all city and county beaches due to Hurricane Lane. Lifeguards aren’t manning their stations but are still on patrol.

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Experienced surfers took advantage of the swell from Hurricane Lane this afternoon, catching six to eight foot waves along popular surf breaks from Diamond Head to Waikiki, while dozens of tourists frolicked in the choppy, turquoise waters fronting Waikiki’s iconic hotels.

This is all in spite of the closure of all city and county beaches. As a woman and two small children donning snorkel gear made their way out into the churning waters fronting Kuhio Beach a lifeguard with a bull horn warned them out of the water.

Lifeguards aren’t manning their stations due to the beach closures, but are still on patrols monitoring the situation and alerting people to the dangerous conditions. However, lifeguards have been ordered to stay home tomorrow and ocean safety officials warn that extremely dangerous ocean conditions are expected starting this evening. Waves along the south shore could reach 20 feet.

“Stay away from the beach, especially tomorrow,” said Paul Merino, captain of south shore operations for Honolulu’s Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services Division, as he stood in front of the Natatorium. “If you look out in the ocean and see all white water that is a very, very big sign of dangerous water. Stay away from the water by all means. Stay off the beach because of flying debris.”

Merino said that wind speeds are expected to reach 40 to 80 miles an hour. “Trash cans and anything that is not locked down is going to be blowing down the beach and you could be injured by debris blowing.”

Merino warned that the waves won’t be surfable and it won’t be possible to paddle out.

“You will come to the beach and you will see waves breaking across the horizon and no one able to make it past the first set of white water. And what is dangerous is that people who come down to the beach to view that, they don’t understand how that water piles up on the beach and the current becomes three times stronger than it normally is, sucking people in and down the beach,” said Merino.

“As it gets into the shore, it is very strong and normally Waikiki isn’t – it will splash on your ankles and you will giggle. This one, it will splash on your ankles and pull you down and pull you in.”

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