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Waves expected to reach up to 35 feet today on north-facing shores

By Craig Gima

LAST UPDATED: 12:08 p.m. HST, Jan 17, 2014

All north shore Kauai beaches, from the Hanalei Pavilion to Kee Beach, are closed to swimming today due to high surf conditions. Ocean Safety officials report wave heights of up to 20 feet in these areas. 

Lifeguards will remain at the beach towers throughout the day to notify beachgoers of the closure. All beaches will reopen as officials deem them safe for swimming. 

The National Weather Service has posted a high surf warning along all north and west facing shores on Kauai, Niihau, Oahu and Molokai until 6 p.m. 

North and west shores of Hawaii island are also under a high surf advisory. Waves of 12 to 20 feet are expected on north shores and 8- to 10-foot waves are forecast for west shores. The advisory-level surf is expected to continue until 6 p.m. Sunday.

The peak of the swell early this morning coincides with a full moon and large high tide, increasing concerns for homes near Sunset Beach. Northwest swells have been eroding the ground under the homes.

Red Cross volunteers stood-by in the parking lot of the Sunset Beach Christian Academy Thursday evening to help residents whose homes might be threatened.

City officials are also monitoring the potential for waves to wash over highways.

The National Weather service warns beachgoers that the surf will generate shore breaks, dangerous waves and strong currents that may make swimming "very hazardous."

Forecaster say that only "highly experienced persons should enter the water. Inexperienced persons should stay off beaches and adjacent beachfront areas...

"Anyone entering the water could face significant injury or death," the weather service said.

A spokeswoman for the city's Ocean Safety Division said lifeguards rescued one person at Laniakea Beach Thursday and issued 905 warnings on the north shore. There were six rescues on west side beaches and 578 warnings.

Surf should gradually diminish starting tonight, but another swell is expected to bring warning-level surf waves on Sunday.

A spokeswoman for the Quicksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau big wave surfing competition said the two swells this weekend do not appear big enough or consistent enough to hold the competition, which is only held when waves are about 35 feet or higher and conditions are right.

She said contest officials are monitoring another swell that could arrive Tuesday or Wednesday.

The last time the contest was held was in 2009.

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