State of Hawai'i beach hazard information website

TitleState of Hawai'i beach hazard information website
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsHowe, J, Goto, RS
Conference NameWorld Conference on Drowning Prevention
Date Published09/2007
PublisherInternational Life Saving Federation
Conference LocationPorto, Portugal
Other Numbers02-12

­The State of Hawai’i beach hazard information website ( has been developed in the continuing effort to reduce the rate of injuries and drowning in the near shore waters surrounding the Islands of the State of Hawai’i.

The website was developed by identifying the discrete beaches on the Islands, gathering beach morphology data on each beach, and assigning two beach hazard level ratings to each. The two rating system was developed to provide hazard information that would be useful for and pertinent to the wide variety of ocean conditions and ocean sports activities that people engage in at Hawaiian beaches.

The “beach and near-shore” rating (from the waterline to 150 yards off-shore) provides hazard information which is useful for all beach users but is especially pertinent at beach areas with deep off shore waters and steep bottom inclination close to shore where high hazard “shore break” waves conditions are characteristic. The “offshore” rating (150 yards to 1 mile offshore) provides hazard information which is especially pertinent at beach areas with offshore reef structures, pinnacle rocks, off shore sand bars, off-shore man-made structures, and islets where beach and near-shore conditions are often significantly less hazardous than off-shore conditions.

The “beach and near shore” hazard level is derived from wave buoy data generated by both physical and virtual ocean buoys. The “off-shore” hazard level is derived using a combination of wave and wind data. Buoy data is delivered to the website and the site hazard matrix calculates and posts the hazard levels for the beach site automatically. The development team determined it would be prudent to have the site update 4 times daily due to the rapidly changing nature of swell and wind conditions in the Hawaiian Islands.

The site also has a secure site manager interface which allows for immediate posting of hazards as they develop. This includes banner scrolling of weather related advisories and warnings issued by Civil Defence Agencies, Tsunami Warning Centres, National Weather Centres, Environmental Protection Agencies, and Ocean Safety Agencies. The site manager also has the capability to post issue specific hazard, warning, and beach closure informational signs for specific locations or regions of the Island.

The integration of real time photo or video images of beach and near-shores locations is currently in the development stage and is expected to greatly enhance the utility and popularity of the site. The use of Google Earth fly over technology is currently available in demonstration form on the site. This technology further expands the site utility and is anticipated to be very useful in a variety of applications in the Eco-tourism and Hospitality Industries.

Learning Outcomes
  1. Participants will learn about the availability and utility of the website
  2. Participants will learn how the site was developed
  3. Participants will learn about the science which supports the site