Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search


Hawaii tsunami a no-show. Tsunami warning lifted for Hawaii

The Hawaii tsunami turned out to be more bark than bite as the tsunami warning for Hawaii has been lifted.

By Mike GordonReuters / February 27, 2010

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center canceled the tsunami warning for Hawaii on Saturday, after waves caused erratic surges in the sea but did not appear to cause significant property damage. The alert was called after a major earthquake in Chile a half-day earlier had caused tsunami warnings to be issued for most of the Pacific basin.

NEWSCOM

Enlarge

HONOLULU

Hawaii dodged serious damage on Saturday when a tsunami triggered by a powerful earthquake in Chile merely lapped ashore, although residents were warned to stay away from coastal areas because the ocean could remain unsettled for several more hours.

Skip to next paragraph

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said it lifted its warning for the U.S. state, but added that coastal areas could still experience sea level changes or strong currents for several more hours.

As the tsunami headed toward the state in the early morning hours, Hawaii sounded warning sirens and began evacuating residents near the coastline.

IN PICTURES: Images from the 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile

The Warning Center had said a tsunami could cause waves of up to 8 feet. Civil defense officials sent firefighters and fire trucks into neighborhoods bordering the Hawaii coast, and used loud speakers to urge residents to evacuate.

Gas stations in Honolulu were jammed with lines of cars stretching a quarter of a mile in some places as residents waited to fill gas tanks before evacuating.

When the tsunami reached Hawaii, the ocean water changed color and receded in Hilo and Honolulu. But initial wave surges measuring roughly 3 feet (1 meter) -- nothing for an archipelago where champion surfers ride waves 20 feet high -- were not threatening.

Before the warning was lifted, Civil Defense Administrator Quince Mento said that while there was a lot of activity in the ocean, it had not produced anything destructive.

The center had issued a Pacific-wide tsunami warning that included Hawaii and stretched across the ocean from South America to the Pacific Rim.The warning follows a huge earthquake in Chile that killed at least 214 people and triggered tsunamis up and down the coast of the earthquake-prone country.

The last time a destructive tsunami struck Hawaii was in 1960, when much of downtown Hilo was destroyed in the aftermath of a 9.5 magnitude Chilean earthquake.

Since then, tsunamis have largely been a no-show. The last time civil defense officials ordered evacuations was in 1994.

The West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center said a tsunami advisory is in effect for the coastal areas of California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and Alaska from the California-Mexico border to Attu, Alaska.

IN PICTURES: Images from the 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile

Permissions