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Weekend’s Southern Hemisphere Swell to Linger Throughout Week

By Tiffany DeMasters
July 18, 2022, 3:58 PM HST
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Image captured from video provided by Isabella Sloan of a large swell hitting Kona Surf and Racquet Club in Keauhou on Saturday, July 16, 2022.

County officials continue to assess the damage brought on by the Southern Hemisphere Swell that slammed West Hawai‘i coastlines on Saturday, July 16.

As of Monday, July 18, Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno said the county hadn’t seen any structural damage. Beach parks were mostly reopened with the exception of Kohanaiki and Old Kona Airport due to debris.

The Hawai‘i Fire Department had a total of six calls related to the South swell on Saturday. Calls included a water ski rescue off End of the World in Keauhou and a suspected drowning. Fire officials also responded to the Kona Surf and Racquet Club where waves crashed into townhomes. No injuries were reported.

While Tropical Storm Darby was passing by on Saturday, Magno said the Southern Hemisphere Swell was a separate event. The swell was projected as it had already hit Tahiti and Samoa.

“We were next in line,” Magno said.

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Civil Defense included information about the Southern Hemisphere Swell on Wednesday, July 13, clarifying the surf generated was not associated with Darby.

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On Thursday, July 14, Civil Defense put out another message stating starting Friday, the National Weather Service anticipates 15 to 20 waves from a separate swell coming from the southern hemisphere and may possibly issue a High Surf Warning for south facing shores of Hawai‘i Island through Saturday, July 15.

“Darby was a non-event,” Magno said. “We were prepared for it, it was forecasted and diminished rapidly.”

Magno said the Southern Hemisphere Swell was high on his radar. As Darby became less of a threat, everything switched to watching the swell.

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“We knew something was coming, possibly damaging,” he said.

The Southern Hemisphere Swell, Magno added was a powerful storm aimed in the right direction to hit Hawai‘i.

“There will be residual waves throughout the week,” he said.

The county is following up with public and commercial properties to assess if there was any more damage. Magno said there will be surf throughout the week but added the warning level is expected to dissipate by Tuesday morning.

To report damage, call Civil Defense at 808-935-0031. The county will need the address of damage, point of contact, contact information, whether the property is private or commercial and a description of the damage.

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a reporter for Big Island Now. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat.
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