The potentially dangerous giant waves, forecast at 40- to 50-feet,
are expected to hit the island of Kauai at midnight local time on
Tuesday and arrive on Oahu shores at 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. on Wednesday
Organizers of a prestigious big wave surf contest that had been
planned for Wednesday said they were postponing the event despite
the once-in-a-decade wave heights, citing unfavorable wind
"The wave quality will be very poor because of the strong sideshore
and onshore winds, which dramatically deteriorate conditions," said
Jodi Wilmott, an organizer of the event, Quiksilver in Memory of
Eddie Aikau invitational.
The event requires wave heights of at least 35 feet to 40 feet, she
"But it must be a clean and decent ride for the surfers, and when
you get these kinds of winds it's horrible," she said.
An intense storm in the north Pacific Ocean with a large area of
strong winds has generated the large ocean swell heading for Hawaii,
said Chris Jacobson, a forecaster with the National Weather Service.
Mike Cantin, the warning coordination meteorologist for the National
Weather Service in Honolulu, characterized the waves as potentially
"If this swell pans out we're expecting one wave every 20 seconds.
The last time we had these types of conditions was 2004," Cantin
said, adding that the winds would also increase risks for those on
shore, by pushing water further over land.
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"We're expecting water over roads and infrastructure," he said.
"Those waves will have the potential to cause problems to
homeowners. People need to stay away from these waves. They will be
big enough to wash over cliffs."
Organizers of the big wave surfing event hope to hold it before the
end of the winter season, which is when the state sees its largest
waves of the year.
The event is named after a Native Hawaiian big wave surfer who
disappeared while at sea en route to Tahiti on a Polynesian voyaging
canoe in 1978. The contest only occurs about every four years on
average due to its wave size and quality requirements.
"But that's what makes it so special when it does" take place, said
Wilmott, who expects the event's defending champion, Greg Long of
California, and 11-time world surfing champion Kelly Slater from
Florida to compete this year.
"We're just over the four-year mark from the last one, and it's been
a very active winter for big waves. It looks like that pattern is
going to persist for the next month and we're really optimistic,"
(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Ken Wills)
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