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North Shore to see waves up to 35 feet, but the 'Eddie' won't go

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 6:17 p.m. HST, Jan 3, 2012

Surf, described as "ginormous" by a National Weather Service forecaster, is expected to build to 25- to 35-foot faces on north shores of Oahu, Kauai, Maui, Molokai and Niihau. West shores will also see warning-level surf of 15 to 25 feet along west shores.

Forecasters expect surf to dramatically rise on Kauai starting this morning and on Oahu, Molokai, and Maui this afternoon. Surf heights will peak Wednesday morning, but warning level surf will remain through Wednesday night. A high surf warning is in effect from 10 a.m. today through 6 a.m. Thursday.

"The Department of Emergency Management is actively coordinating response actions in preparation for the impending high surf period,” said John Cummings, spokesman for the city Department of Emergency Management.

City department heads and first responders met this morning to review the city’s high surf response plans and will be monitoring the swell.

"Department staff and emergency responders are on stand-by and prepared to activate and staff  the City Emergency Operations Center if needed,” Cumming said. "Residents and visitors are asked to avoid affected beach areas and to comply with life safety instructions issued by Ocean Safety Lifeguards, police and other emergency responders," he added.

Surf forecaster Pat Caldwell said early indications are that the surf could be the biggest swell of the season so far with waves breaking on the outer reefs starting late today and “extra-large to marginally giant” waves peaking late Wednesday morning.

“The big concern will be tonight and tomorrow,” said Tim Craig, a forecaster with the weather service. “We’re still looking at some very high surf. This will be big.”

Craig said the peak of the swell will coincide with a 1.9 foot high tide at midnight, raising concerns that the water will rise over Kamehameha Highway.

A high surf warning indicates that dangerous, battering waves will pound the shoreline, resulting in dangerous swimming conditions and deadly rip currents, the Weather Service said.

Organizers of the Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau say they do not plan to hold the big-wave surf contest tomorrow despite the weather service's warning of giant waves.

"The likelihood is slim to none," said event organizer Glen Moncata in a statement. He said the "fast-moving system" will likely peak overnight and drop throughout Wednesday. There will be some waves in the 20-foot range overnight, but not many of the 20-plus scale that the event mandates on Wednesday, he said. "It will be a good opportunity for competitors to warm up."

The Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau has until February 29 to run at Waimea Bay. It is a one-day event held in honor of legendary Hawaiian waterman, lifeguard and big-wave rider Eddie Aikau. The event has run eight times in its 27-year history, most recently in December of 2009, when it was won by California's Greg Long.

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