Sunday | December 10, 2017
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National Weather Service extends high surf warning

The National Weather Service said Friday afternoon it’s extending a high surf warning for north- and east-facing beaches until 10 a.m. Saturday.

“We’re extending it even though we’re looking at a trend downward,” NWS meteorologist Maureen Ballard said Friday afternoon. “One of the concerns is high tide and, of course, there are impacts still being felt over on the Big Island. The morning buoy observations are going to be a factor in deciding what we are going to do (Saturday). More than likely, there will at least be an advisory (Saturday) on the Big Island, but we do have to look at conditions because in addition to the swell we have winds coming up … that impact the surf and will be a factor. The wind picking up will make the surf more chaotic and rough.

“There’s a danger on the shoreline, as well, as the waves are unpredictable and you don’t know when they’re going to come crashing in and how far they’re going to come into the parks and on the roadways.”

Ballard said reported surf heights were lower Friday than on Thanksgiving, with Richardson Ocean Park reporting surf between 8 and 10 feet and Honolii Beach Park reporting surf of 6-8 feet.

The high surf caused closures starting Wednesday night of Hilo Bayfront Highway and Kalanianaole Avenue in Keaukaha between Kolea and Oeoe streets, which includes the entrances to Wai‘olena and Leleiwi beach parks. Those roads remained closed on Friday.

All Keaukaha-area beach parks were closed on Thanksgiving and remained closed Friday afternoon, due to waves washing into parking lots and onto roadways, causing deposits of mud and rocks, according to Bill Hanson of Hawaii County Civil Defense.

“There’s still a little debris on the road right now, but it’s still low tide. So who knows? When high tide comes up, it could still push some water and debris onto the road,” Hanson said. “It will remain closed at least until (Saturday) morning when we can do a reassessment. The high surf warning will remain in effect at least until them. That’ll give us time to get our guys, Parks and Rec and state Highways out there to do a re-evaluation of the situation to see if it warrants a re-extending or to drop it down to an advisory level.

“… We don’t know of any property damage except the parking lots of some of the beach parks have been inundated with debris and rocks. The road crews and the Parks and Recreation personnel are cleaning that up right now.”

In addition, there’s a low-pressure system moving in from the west that should cause increased rain late this weekend, according to Ballard.

“By the time we get into Sunday night and Monday morning we are looking at an increase in moisture that is not going to limited to the windward side,” she said. “We are looking at the possibility of rain spreading across the Big Island. At this point, we’re definitely talking about heavier rains than tradewind passing showers. We are looking at a changing situation and we are evaluating the potential for a flood watch.

“With the type of event we’re talking about, there’s also the possibility of getting moisture up on the summits, so we are also looking at the possibility of a winter weather (advisory, watch or warning) for the summits.”

According to the extended forecast on the NWS website, Hilo has a 70 percent chance of showers on Saturday, 80 percent Saturday night and Sunday, and 90 percent Sunday night through Wednesday.

“We are expecting significant rain coming in next week, starting this weekend, so we’re going to definitely (prepare) for that,” Hanson said.

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

 

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