High surf warning remains in effect; mayor warns public of hazardous ocean conditions

  • A bodyboarder enters the water at Honl's beach Monday afternoon. (Tom Linder/West Hawaii Today)

  • A bodyboarder enjoys the high surf at Honl's beach in Kailua-Kona Monday afternoon as the Big Island saw high surf pound its west-facing shores. (Tom Linder/West Hawaii Today)

  • As warning-level surf crashes on the reef, a fisherman wades in the water at Honl's beach Monday afternoon. (Tom Linder/West Hawaii Today)

  • On Sunday, Chopper 2 was called to Lekeleke Bay to pluck a stranded swimmer from an outcropping of rocks after the man in his 30s jumped in to the water at “End of the World” amid high surf and rough conditions. (Image grab from courtesy video/Special to West Hawaii Today)

Warning-level surf is forecast to continue pounding west-facing shores of the Big Island through this evening.

Fueled by a second, larger northwest swell that was expected to hit Monday evening, wave heights are forecast between 8 feet and 12 feet along the Kona and Kohala coasts through 6 p.m., forecasters with the National Weather Service in Honolulu said.

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The high surf has prompted five ocean rescues off the Kona Coast in recent days. On Sunday, Chopper 2 was called to Lekeleke Bay to pluck a stranded swimmer from an outcropping of rocks after the man in his 30s jumped in to the water at “End of the World” amid high surf and rough conditions.

On Monday, Mayor Mitch Roth warned the community to use extreme caution when entering waters along the affected shorelines.

“We are asking that folks use extreme caution when entering waters off of the Kona Coast,” said Roth. “From what we understand the conditions are hazardous, even for the most advanced of swimmers, and we ask that you use your best discretion before deciding to jump in. We’ve seen a lot of ocean-related incidents over the past year and want to ensure that everyone makes it home to their families, friends, and loved ones. The ocean is special to us for so many different reasons, but it is also extremely powerful and should be respected as such.”

As of press-time, the county said Laaloa and Kahaluu beach parks in North Kona and Mahukona Beach Park in North Kohala would remain closed until further notice due to the dangerous ocean conditions. Civil Defense cautioned other parks could close without notice.

The swell is forecast to peak this evening, however, wave action could continue with a third northwest swell expected to arrive by Wednesday night and peak Thursday.

“Confidence on the swell heights with this third northwest swell remains low as long range swell guidance is less certain,” forecasters said.

The National Weather Service said oceangoers should expect ocean water occasionally sweeping across portions of beaches, very strong breaking waves, and strong longshore and rip currents amid the warning. Beachgoers, swimmers, and surfers should heed all advice given by ocean safety officials and exercise caution.

In addition, breaking waves may make navigating harbor channels dangerous. Boaters should also be aware of an increased number of surfers and body boarders utilizing the harbor channel to access surfing areas.

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