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.
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.