Huge, but unruly surf cleaned up by mid-morning, allowing the first day of competition to begin for the Reef Hawaiian Pro surfing contest.
Contest officials delayed the start of the contest until about 10 a.m. because of dangerous big and choppy waves at Alii Beach Park in Haleiwa.
Surf was about 15 to 18 feet at the contest site Wednesday morning, described as double- to triple- overhead plus conditions.
A high-surf warning is in effect until 6 p.m. Wednesday along north and west shores of Niihau, Kauai, Oahu and Molokai, and along Maui’s north shoreline. On Hawaii island a high-surf advisory is in effect for north shores until 6 p.m.
The swell brought 25- to 35-foot wave faces to north shores Wednesday morning. The waves are expected to drop to 18 to 22 feet by Wednesday night, then to 15 to 20 feet Thursday. West shores saw 12- to 20-foot surf Wednesday morning, dropping to 10 to 15 feet through Thursday.
On Kauai, officials closed north shore beaches from the Hanalei Pavilion to Kee Beach to swimming because of the high surf and dangerous ocean conditions.
On Tuesday, Oahu lifeguards rescued 16 people from north and west shore beaches. Abou 1,590 warnings were issued on the North Shore and 2,010 preventative actions taken on west-side beaches.
None of the rescues required medical assistance.
Forecasters warned beach-goers to beware of waves breaking across beaches and strong currents.
“Stay out of the water and well away from shore break along the affected shores,” forecaster said. “Anyone entering the water or venturing too close to the shoreline could face significant injury or death. Boaters should beware of waves breaking in harbor entrances and watch out for surfers and body boarders using harbor channels to access surfing areas.
The swell could linger for a few days, allowing the Reef Hawaiian Pro to run four consecutive days, with a winner crowned Saturday.
A new north swell could boost surf back to near-advisory levels Monday, according to the weather service.