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Oahu lifeguards rescue 9 as surf rises to warning levels

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 8:58 p.m. HST, Apr 4, 2013

Lifeguards rescued nine people, including three tourists swept into the ocean by the shore break as surf began rising on Oahu’s north shore.  What forecasters call “extra large” surf, with wave faces of 15 to 25 feet, is expected to build on the north and west shores of Oahu, Kauai, Molokai and Niihau and the north shores of Maui, prompting a high surf warning until 6 a.m. Saturday.

A spokeswoman for Honolulu’s Ocean Safety Division said six people were rescued by lifeguards on personal watercraft. Lifeguards also issued 1,115 warnings or other preventative actions today.

Forecasters said a powerful northwest swell is creating hazardous surf  with “very strong breaking waves” and rip currents.

Surf reached the 8- to 12-foot size by this afternoon, lifeguards said.

“Anyone entering the water could face significant injury or death,” the weather service warned.

The  waves may also make navigating exposed harbor channels dangerous.

The surf is expected to build overnight and peak Friday before declining.

Surf this big is unusual for the spring. It usually hits the islands during the winter and breaks on outer reefs, such as Waimea Bay.

A storm with hurricane-force winds earlier this week generated the surf. Another storm near Tokyo, with gale-force winds, is expected to bring more large surf to north and west shores Sunday or Monday.

There is decent-sized surf on all shores today. A declining south swell is bringing 3- to 5-foot waves to south shores. East shores are expecting a trade wind swell of 2- to 4-feet.

Unfortunately, box jellyfish have also come ashore on south-facing beaches. Lifeguards counted 190 box jellyfish today at Ala Moana and 100 box jellyfish in Waikiki.

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