Larger, more frequent North Shore swells in the forecast

Prediction causes lifeguards to take precautions

Published  6:30 PM HST Oct 05, 2012
Ocean Safety on alert for big-wave season
HALEIWA, Hawaii -

Large surf rolls into our north and west shores each year, especially between September and May.

But this year, forecasters say El Nino may cause swells to be bigger and more numerous than normal.

"We see warmer-than-normal temperatures down near the equator in the eastern Pacific and a more active storm track in the north Pacific," said National Weather Service meteorologist Michael Cantin. "That means more storms, more wind and more northwest swells impacting portions of the state."

Because of this forecast, the City and County of Honolulu's Ocean Safety has added a fifth rescue watercraft and additional personnel to service Oahu's North Shore.

"We basically started out preparation for this surf season back in July," said John Hoogsteden, North Shore captain for the City and County of Honolulu's Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services Division.

But lifeguards say their additional precautions are not a reason to test your limits.

"These waves are big enough to kill you and it's not just drowning, but it's also hitting the bottom or being hit by your own surfboard or by somebody else's board and being knocked unconscious then just tumbled in the surf line," said Jim Howe, Honolulu's Chief of Lifeguard Operations.

"Always go to beaches with lifeguards, always ask," added Hoogsteden. "If you have any questions, make sure that you come to us."

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