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Hawaii tsunami: Smaller waves than predicted after Canada quake

Hawaii tsunami: Initial tsunami waves are small. But Hawaii residents got a good test of tsunami preparedness in the wake of Saturday's magnitude 7.7 earthquake off Canada.

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Carlisle — who recommended people think about ditching their cars if they were in traffic — said people should be cautious.

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"There's no reason to panic but there's every reason to take all of the necessary precautions," he said.

Coast Guard officials closed all harbors in the state to incoming boats and urged vessels to leave and not return until an all-clear is given.

"We don't have any reports of any tsunami impacts at this time, but we caution mariners because the tsunami surges can continue for several hours," Chief Warrant Officer Gene Maestas said.

In Kauai, three schools used as evacuation centers quickly filled to capacity.

As many people along Hawaii's coasts rushed to higher ground, officials downgraded a tsunami warning to an advisory for southern Alaska and British Columbia. They also issued an advisory for areas of northern California and southern Oregon.

In Alaska, the wave or surge was recorded at 4 inches, much smaller than forecast, said Jeremy Zidek, a spokesman for the Alaska Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake hit in the Queen Charlotte Islands area. The quake was felt in Craig and other southeast Alaska communities, but Zidek said there were no immediate reports of damage.

The West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center issued a warning for coastal areas of southeast Alaska, down the western Canadian coast to the tip of Vancouver Island.

Later Saturday evening, the warning for those areas was downgraded to an advisory, while a warning was issued for Hawaii. Early Sunday, the advisory was canceled entirely for Alaska.

In addition, officials issued an advisory for areas from Gualala Point, Calif., about 80 miles northwest of San Francisco, to the Douglas-Lane county line in Oregon, about 10 miles southwest of Florence.

The Del Norte County Sheriff's Department, based in Crescent City, Calif., near the Oregon line, said it hadn't heard of any problems as a result of the tsunami. Crescent City was one of the U.S. towns hit hardest by last year's tsunami from the Japan quake, with boats in the harbor suffering serious damage.

A tsunami warning means an area is likely to be hit by a wave, while an advisory means there may be strong currents, but that widespread inundation is not expected to occur.

Fryer said it's not surprising that an earthquake so far away could generate dangerous waves in Hawaii.

"There is nothing between Canada and us that would scatter the energy, so once the beam is formed, it just points right at us," Fryer said.

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