Every so often, Mother Nature shows off her raw and unforgiving power.
In Hawaii, that force has been on display all week, thanks to a pair of gigantic, back-to-back swells, which generated waves large enough to overtake beach parks, wash across roadways and damage oceanfront properties.
“We’re seeing very, very huge wave heights,” Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said this week. “We’re seeing very dangerous situations.”
The initial swell brought wave faces of up to 70 feet in certain areas Monday, Hawaii News Now reports. A stronger-than-usual El Niño was fueling one of the strongest surf events in Hawaii in 50 years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
In an unprecedented move, state officials shut down a 12-mile stretch of Kamehameha Highway, on the north shore of Oahu, in response to ocean surges that washed over the roadway.
In addition to flooding, several areas experienced severe coastal erosion. A 30-foot stretch of beach on the north shore of Oahu reportedly disappeared overnight.
Despite numerous beaches being closed, lifeguards were kept busy, rescuing dozens of people and issuing hundreds of warnings, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports.
The historic event also wreaked havoc on oceanfront properties, including a home on Oahu that all but toppled into the ocean.
If Monday’s pounding swell wasn’t enough, the National Weather Service warned Wednesday that another followed close behind. On north-facing shores, surf was forecast to rise rapidly from Wednesday and reach heights of 40 to 50 feet through Thursday.