HONOLULU — Giant waves hammered the Hawaiian Islands Tuesday but then fell below the danger level, helping a national surfing meet finally get under way with 18- to 20-foot breakers spawned by a major Pacific storm.
A total of 32 finalists in the Billabong Hawaiian Pro surfing competition, which had been delayed for four days by the lack of sufficient waves, took off on breakers of up to 20 feet at Waimea Bay as Civil Defense officials reduced shoreline alerts.
A county Oahu Civil Defense spokesman said waves up to 25 feet were observed Monday night and early Tuesday, but none caused any physical damage or forced the evacuation of shoreline residents.
Water from the bigger sets ran up to roadways running alongside the beaches but did not cross them.
The National Weather Service said favorable tides at this time of the month helped keep the waves from reaching roads and nearby structures.
Civil Defense officials, in response to forecasts for "extremely dangerous" waves, opened Red Cross shelters in three schools on Oahu as a precautionary measure. But they were closed Tuesday afternoon "because we had no takers," the spokesman said.
"There was no damage at all," a Civil Defense spokesman said. "Waves between 15 to 20 feet, with occasional 25-footers, were observed on the North Shore with waves in the 9- to 10-foot range along the western shores, but it was relatively quiet."
The surf was expected to increase again Thursday as stormy conditions in the Central Pacific continue to produce large swell waves that are moving toward the Hawaiian Islands, the weather service said.