High surf, with waves rising up to 25 to 35 feet, is creating "very dangerous" conditions on north- and east-facing shores of most islands, National Weather Service forecasters said.
A high surf warning is in effect for Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Hawaii island and Kauai County until 6 p.m. Thursday.
Hilo Bayfront Highway remains closed because of debris on the road and high surf, Hawaii County police said.
The Reef Hawaiian Pro surf contest at Haleiwa’s Alii beach on the north shore initially were hopeful today’s swell would bring big, surfable waves for the competition. But strong rip currents and "wild conditions," with 15 to 20 foot waves closing out, forced the surf meet to postpone Wednesday’s competition.
According to the weather service, north-facing shores should see waves of 25 to 35 feet this evening, dropping to 20 to 25 feet late tonight and Thursday, while eastern shores will see 15 to 20 feet surf this evening, decreasing to 10 to 15 feet. Forecasters said the surf will "remain elevated and very dangerous.
The weather service warned that the wave direction could send strong harbor surges to Hilo and Kahului harbors. Waves may also be breaking at the channel entrance to Kahului Harbor.
Officials said ocean water will surge and sweep across beaches, coastal benches, and lava flows. There is also the potential for impacts to coastal properties and infrastructure, including roadways, especially Kamehameha Highway along Windward Oahu, and along Bayfront Highway in Hilo, officials said.
"These dangerous conditions mean that only highly experienced persons should enter the water. Inexperienced persons should remain off beaches and adjacent beachfront areas. Large breaking surf, significant shorebreak and dangerous currents make entering the water very hazardous. Anyone entering the water could face significant injury or death," forecasters said. "Powerful longshore and rip currents will be present at most beaches. Large breaking waves and strong currents may impact harbor entrances and channels causing hazardous boating conditions."