Soon big-wave surfers and spectators will be able to get more accurate information about incoming swells, with a buoy deployed by the University of Hawaii off the famous Peahi surf spot "Jaws."
In response to public requests, on Dec. 3, the University of Hawaii at Manoa's School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology deployed a high-tech buoy that will collect data about wave heights, directions, swell depths, durations and ocean temperatures, and post the information online every half-hour, said Chris Ostrander, director of the university's Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System.
However, the buoy isn't just for professional adventure seekers. It has practical safety applications for paddlers, sailors and fishermen headed east out of Kahului Harbor, according to a university news release.
A surfer rides a wave at Hookipa on Friday afternoon. A high-tech buoy has been deployed six miles north of Maui in 700-foot-deep water by the University of Hawaii’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology to collect data about wave heights, directions and other information.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
The Datawell Mark II Waverider Buoy is located in 700-foot-deep water about six miles north of Pauwela in Haiku. It can also help predict flooding from ocean surges, the university stated.
Forecasters and other ocean observers will be able to use the site to alert surfers and emergency personnel about conditions, Ostrander said.
"The buoy will provide information in real time, so over time the individual or communities can make wave models to forecast how large the big-surf events will be at the breaks on the windward side," he said.
Glenn James, senior weather analyst with the Pacific Disaster Center in Kihei, said he knows about the buoy data and has agreed to help the university find a team to locate the buoy if it ever goes astray.
Similar buoys that provide information to the public are already located in five other places in the Pacific Islands, including along Oahu and Lanai, Ostrander said. The system is in routine use on Oahu's North Shore, he said.
The university stated in a news release that the data is available, or will be soon, online at www.pacioos.org, cdip.ucsd.edu and via twitter @buoy51205.
* Chris Hamilton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.