“Historic South Swell” dumps water on roadways, 18-24 foot surf expected
July 17, 2022, 5:54 AM HST
* Updated July 17, 6:00 AM
A historic south swell continues to produce dangerous breaking waves along the south shores into Monday.
On Saturday, the high surf, combined with tides, forced the closure of Maui’s South Kīhei Road between Uwapo and Leilani roads at around 6:28 p.m.
Residents reported ocean water was washing up onto the roadway near exposed shores along South Kīhei Road, as well as the Honoapiʻilani Highway and Front Street in West Maui. The conditions slowed traffic throughout the day.
At around the same time on Hawaiʻi Island, the Emergency Management Agency reported that Kohanaiki Beach Park, south of Kona International Airport was closed due to inundation from high surf around the time of the high tide. Water moved into locations where people were camping, forcing them to leave.
Also on Hawaiʻi Island, water from high surf during the afternoon high tide lifted and moved some vehicles in a parking lot at the Kona Surf and Racquet Club, according to NWS reports.
The National Weather Service reports that the “historic south swell” is coming out of the 170- to 190-degree direction. “A combination of large surf and regular predicted water levels could lead to flooding of beaches that typically remain dry, especially at and around the peak daily tide,” the NWS advises.
The warning calls for 18-24 foot surf today, subsiding to 15-20 feet on Monday along south facing shores.
According to the NWS warning, “significant beach run-up, flooding of beaches that typically remain dry, and overwash in vulnerable low-lying coastal roadways can be expected with this swell, especially near times of high tide.”