VIDEO: High Surf at Hookipa Results in Beach Closures and Increased Traffic

December 7, 2009, 2:28 PM HST · Updated December 7, 4:15 PM
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By Wendy Osher

The effects of a high surf warning are showing in the form of increased traffic and beach closures.  The county of Maui closed Baldwin and Hookipa Beach parks at 8:30 this morning.  By 10 a.m., county lifeguards on the north shore reported surf in the 40-45 foot range at the popular Hookipa Beach Park.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyZTBDEi3VE[/youtube]

Traffic throughout the late morning and early afternoon was backed up in the Hana-bound direction from the Kaunoa senior center to the Baldwin Avenue intersection.  For traffic headed into Kahului, traffic on the Hana Highway was slow moving from Hookipa to the Baldwin Avenue intersection.

County officials are advising motorists to stay away from the area if travel is not necessary and to stay well away from the shore break.  Those who are parking along the side of the highway are advised that police will issue citations for illegal, haphazard and unsafe parking.

Spectators gathered along Maui's north shore to witness the warning level surf of 40-45 feet reported by lifeguards at Hookipa Beach Park. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Spectators gathered along Maui's north shore to witness the warning level surf of 40-45 feet reported by lifeguards at Hookipa Beach Park. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Lifeguards at Maui's Hookipa Beach Park reported 40-50 foot sets at around 10 a.m. The beach park was closed at 8:30 Monday morning along with the nearby Baldwin Beach Park in Paia. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Lifeguards at Maui's Hookipa Beach Park reported 40-50 foot sets at around 10 a.m. The beach park was closed at 8:30 Monday morning along with the nearby Baldwin Beach Park in Paia. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Motorists traveling through Paia to Haiku and East Maui are advised to allow additional travel time to the traffic congestion created by the high surf.  If travel is necessary, alternate routes suggested by county officials include travel via Haliimaile or Makawao Avenue.

Maui & Molokai remain under a High Surf WARNING with surf as high as 50 feet expected-the highest seen in some parts of the county in decades.  The warning will remain in effect through Wednesday evening.

Similar warning conditions in 2004 caused damage to homes in the Puakukalo and Honokohau areas of Maui.  The county’s community Emergency Response Team spent the weekend notifying residents of potential impacts.  County ocean safety officers, park rangers and DLNR enforcement personnel are continuing to monitor beach parks exposed to today’s high surf.

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