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High surf keeps lifeguards busy, provides thrills for surfers

By Craig Gima

LAST UPDATED: 1:19 a.m. HST, Dec 21, 2013

Photo gallery: High surf on Oahu's north shore

Huge waves on Oahu's north and west shores that wrapped around to the south shore kept lifeguards busy Friday. The surf was also an early Christmas present for experienced surfers and spectators.

Honolulu's Ocean Safety Division reported that lifeguards rescued or assisted 54 people out of the water by 3:35 p.m. They also issued about 4,844 warnings to beach-goers about the high surf.

Kauai, Niihau and the west shores of the Big Island remain under a high surf warning  until 6 a.m. today. The warning was replaced by a high surf  advisory for north shores of Oahu, Maui and Molokai and a high surf advisory remains in effect for west shores of Oahu through this morning.

Surf was expected to peak at 20- to 30-feet with higher sets, especially off Kauai and Niihau Friday and gradually diminish through the weekend.

Surf on north shores of Oahu was at 18- to 22-feet Friday afternoon, the National Weather Service said.

Beach-goers can expect strong breaking waves, shore break and strong rip currents making swimming dangerous, forecasters said.

A spokeswoman for the Ocean Safety Division said lifeguards rescued 13 people on the north shore, 30 people on the west shore and 11 people on the south shore, including a 19-year-old woman who was taken to the hospital from Makapuu Beach Park. The woman was alert and oriented, but paramedics treated her and took her to the hospital as a precaution.

Lifeguards also issued 3,725 warnings on the north shore, 778 on the west shore and 341 on the south shore.

National Weather Service forecasters said because of the unusual westerly direction of the swell, south shores of Oahu have been getting a "wrap," which brought waves of up to 5-feet to some south shore beaches.

Reader surf photos

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