August 15, 2022

High waves crash through wedding hall into homes in Hawaii | Hawaii

Waves on Hawaii’s southern shores crashed into homes and businesses, swept across highways and disrupted weddings over the weekend.

The large waves, some 20 feet (6 m) high, came from a combination of a strong southerly swell that peaked Saturday evening, especially high tides and rising sea levels associated with climate change, the National Weather Service said Monday.

A wedding event in Kailua-Kona was disrupted Saturday evening as large waves crashed, sending tables and chairs crashing toward guests.

Writer Sarah Ackerman, who grew up in Hawaii and attended the wedding, filmed the waves as they came ashore.

“It was huge,” she said. “I was filming it and it came over the wall and completely destroyed all the tables and chairs.”

He said it happened five minutes before the ceremony started.
“It doesn’t look like a life-threatening situation by any means,” he said. “Oh my god… what are we going to do? Where are we going to put the tables?”

After the newlyweds exchanged vows, they went to the ceremony and cleaned up the trash, he said.

“We had the ceremony and it was beautiful, with all the (sea) spray,” he said. “The sea was really wild. So it was great for photos.

Chris Brenchley, meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service office in Honolulu, said several factors combined to create such large waves.

“Waves above 12 or 15 feet (3.66 or 4.57 m), they are very large and rare,” he said. “It’s the biggest in decades.”

Brenchley said that the swell is in the South Pacific, where it is currently wintering.

“They had a particularly strong winter storm where the wind was focused directly towards places like Samoa and then north towards Hawaii,” he said.
The remnants of Hurricane Darby moved south of Hawaii but didn’t have a big impact on the surf, he said.

While single events like these are difficult to directly attribute to climate change, Brenchley said a warming planet is playing a role.

“The most direct impact we can have with climate change is sea level rise. Any time you add a small amount of water, you’re going to raise that sea level a little bit,” he said. “Now whenever we have a big storm event or … a big, high tide. Those impacts will intensify.”

Most large summer swells from the south are no larger than about 10 feet (3 m), prompting a high surf advisory.

“We had some waves that were 20 feet (6 m), even over 20 feet,” Brenchley said. “It’s coming at a historic level.”

Hawaii’s northern beaches, where professional surfers often compete, generally receive bigger waves than the rest of the islands. Predominant flash floods hit the north bank in winter and south bank in summer.

Lifeguards and rescue crews across the state were busy celebrating the weekend.

They conducted at least 1,960 rescues on Oahu alone on Saturday and Sunday.

Honolulu officials say one surfer was seriously injured after he was hit in the back of the head.