October 28, 2012 by staff
Hawaii Tsunami, A tsunami caused by a powerful earthquake off Canada’s Pacific coast hits Hawaii; early warnings are downgraded and the waves have little effect. Travis Brecher reports. A Hawaii tsunami warning that spurred coastal evacuations statewide has been downgraded to a tsunami advisory, ending the threat of serious damage less than three hours after the first waves hit the islands.
Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie said overnight that the Aloha State was lucky to avoid more severe surges after a powerful earthquake struck off the coast of Canada.
Abercrombie said beaches and harbours are still closed statewide.
“We’re very, very grateful that we can go home tonight counting our blessings,” Abercrombie said.
Meanwhile, the National Weather Service canceled tsunami advisories for Canada and Oregon, leaving northern California as the only spot in North America still under a tsunami advisory.
The first waves hitting Hawaii on Saturday night (Sunday, NZT) were smaller than expected.
Gerard Fryer, a geologist tracking the tsunami for the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, said the largest wave in the first 45 minutes of the tsunami was measured in Maui at more than 5 feet, about 2 feet higher than normal sea levels.
No major damage was reported.
At first, officials said Hawaii wasn’t in any danger of a tsunami after the 7.7-magnitude earthquake rattled the western coast of North America Saturday night, sparking tsunami warnings for southern Alaska and western Canada.
Later, officials issued a warning for Hawaii as well, saying there had been a change in sea readings. About the same time, a tsunami advisory was issued for a 724km stretch of US coast running from north of San Francisco to central Oregon.
A small tsunami created by the quake was barely noticeable in Craig, Alaska, where the first wave or surge was recorded Saturday night.
Fryer said it could take several hours for the danger to pass in Hawaii, especially if the waves get bigger.
“It’s beginning to look like the evacuation may not have been necessary,” Fryer said.
The National Weather Service said there were reports of water quickly receding in bays, including Hilo Bay on the Big Island.
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