On Monday (July 18), the National Weather Service said the waves reached more than 20 feet high and stemmed from a combination of the strong swell that initially peaked Saturday (July 16) evening, as well as high tides and rising sea levels caused by climate change.
Sara Ackerman, an author who grew up in Hawaii, told NBC News that she attended a wedding in Kailua-Kona, which resulted in tables and chairs flying toward the guests being st as the large waves quickly came toward them in a frightening scene.
“It just was huge,” Ackerman said. ”I was filming it and then it just came over the wall and just completely annihilated all the tables and chairs.”
Ackerman said the waves struck the beach just minutes before the ceremony was scheduled to begin, but didn’t pose “a life-threatening situation by any means whatsoever.”
“We had the ceremony and it was beautiful, having all the (sea) spray,” Ackerman said. “The ocean was really wild. So it was great for the photos.”
Chris Brenchley, a meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service office in Honolulu, confirmed the waves were “really rare to have” and “the largest it’s been in several decades.”
Brenchley said the swell was produced in the South Pacific, which is currently in its winter season, before moving north into Hawaii.