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Experts say dangerous surf could hit north- and east-facing shores

Updated: 
November 23, 2017 - 12:05am

HILO — In Hawaii, a popular diversion from the typical Thanksgiving holiday of family, food, football and Black Friday is the beach.

But a high surf warning is in effect for the north- and east-facing shores of all islands, including Hawaii Island, and extreme caution is advised if you’re looking for some sun and splash time on what, for some, is a four-day weekend.

The high surf warning message on the National Weather Service website cautioned: “Anyone entering the water could face significant injury or death.”

“It’s going to be ‘experts only’ kind of surf,” NWS meteorologist Robert Ballard said Wednesday. “We do have a high surf warning out, and we want people to be aware of their limits. We want people to be careful.

“A lot of times, the Big Island is partly blocked on a northwest swell, but this one will be due north, similar to the last few swells, maybe a little north-northeast. So the exposures there that have seen big surf in the last few big swells are going to get it again.”

Ballard said the surf from this swell should peak today and will be a bit larger than the swell that hit East Hawaii this past weekend.

“This one looks like it’s going to peak, for Hilo, at around 11 feet and maybe peak for a little longer time period,” he said. “It looks like there’ll be a slow decline as we get into Friday and the holiday weekend.”

The website message said “ocean water occasionally sweeping across portions of beaches” could create “the potential for impacts to coastal properties and infrastructure, including roadways.”

The high surf warning is in effect until 6 a.m. Friday but could be extended if conditions persist.

In addition, Ballard said, the northerly winds that have brought cool, dry and sunny conditions the past few days should give way to tradewinds, perhaps as early as today, bringing potential showers to Hilo through the weekend.

“We should return to more typical trade wind showers coming into Hilo over the next few days. You know, your typical night and morning quick downpour or two, and then clearing out in the day.”

Temperatures should remain pleasant in the day and cool at night, with highs in the upper 70s and lows in the lower to mid 60s throughout the weekend, according to the weather service’s extended forecast.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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