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'Eddie' could go on Thursday; surf might exceed 30 feet

By Star-Advertiser Staff

LAST UPDATED: 04:31 p.m. HST, Jan 18, 2011

A north-northwest swell will begin building Wednesday and will likely peak Thursday morning at about 30 feet, the National Weather Servce says.

With light tradewinds, conditions look ideal for elite surfers.

"For big-wave riders it's a good recipe," senior forecaster Tom Birchard said. "For the rest of us it's a good day to avoid entering the water."

Eddie Aikau Surf Invitational organizers told surfers there is a good chance the contest will run this week at Waimea Bay. The contest is only held when waves are consistently 25 feet and higher. The last time the contest was held was in December of 2009.

The National Weather Service issued a high surf warning for north and west shores of Kauai, Oahu, Maui and Molokai from noon Wednesday until noon Thursday. Forecasters say wave faces will be between 25 and 35 feet on Oahu's North Shore.

Birchard said Thursday's waves will likely peak between 3 and 9 a.m., but "it's not something we can nail down to the hour."

The swell will build slowly, and by the end of the day Wednesday, waves will be nearing 20 feet on north shores and 15 on west shores. Waves could reach 30 feet by late Wednesday night.

"They're forecasting a swell that is definitely Eddie potential," professional big wave surfer Garrett McNamara told KITV. "I would either say the Eddie's going to be on or it's going to be too big."

Spectators from around the world are expected to converge on Oahu's North Shore to witness one of surfing's great shows.

All islands will see the effects of the big swell being generated by a low-pressure system that will linger to the northwest of the islands, causing the surf to remain elevated for several days.

The Big Island's leeward coast will see the big waves, but Maui's shores will be somewhat blocked by Oahu and Kauai.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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