Scientists at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center have cancelled a tsunami advisory at 7:25 a.m. Wednesday, after an 8.2-magnitude earthquake off of Chile.
The earthquake happened at around 1:47 p.m. Hawaii time on Tuesday. Click here for a map of epicenter.
The advisory was posted in Hawaii for nearly 14 hours.
Scientists say, based on all available data, a major tsunami is not expected to hit Hawaii. However, sea level changes and strong currents may occur along all coasts that could be a hazard to swimmers and boaters as well as to people near the shore at beaches and in harbors and marinas.
The threat may continue for several hours after the initial waves arrival, which was expected at at around 3:24 a.m. Wednesday. The first waves arrived at around 3:40 a.m.
At 6:34 a.m., gauges indicate wave activity in Kahului Harbor of 1.7 feet with a 18 minute period from one wave to the next. In Hilo, wave activity is at 1.9 feet with about 16 minutes between waves. Wave activity at Haleiwa is at 0.4 feet with about 14 minutes between waves.
Beaches on Maui will be closed at least until noon Wednesday.
A tsunami advisory is issued due to the threat of a potential tsunami which may produce strong currents or waves dangerous to those in or near the water. Coastal regions historically prone to damage due to strong currents induced by tsunamis are at the greatest risk. The threat may continue for several hours after the arrival of the initial wave, but significant widespread inundation is not expected for areas under an advisory. Appropriate actions to be taken by local officials may include closing beaches, evacuating harbors and marinas, and the repositioning of ships to deep waters when there is time to safely do so.
Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira says the county was proactive in this case. Two helicopters flew Tuesday afternoon to notify campers and beachgoers in remote locations. County public works and park and recreation employees were held at work in case the threat level was elevated.
Geophysicist Victor Sardina at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center says they were waiting for waves generated by the earthquake to reach more buoys before making any determinations about the possible impact to Hawaii.
Sardina says there was an 8.8-magnitude earthquake off the coast of Chile in 2010. The 2010 quake was about three times as strong on Tuesday's quake. Generally, an earthquake doubles in intensity with every 0.2 magnitude increase.
The 2010 earthquake generated waves in the 1-to-3-foot-high range in Hawaii.
A tsunami was generated after an 8.6-magnitude earthquake off Alaska's Aleutian Islands on April 1, 1946. That tsunami killed 159 people and caused $26 million in damage in Hawaii. There were 30-foot-high waves off of Hilo and 50-foot-high waves on the north shore of Molokai that day. During that time, there was no warning system. Shortly after the 1946 tsunami, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center was created.
On May 22, 1960, an 8.6-magnitude earthquake off South Central Chile was responsible for 61 deaths.
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