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Tsunami advisory issued, but no major threat seen

Motorists line up at a Ward Avenue service station to fill up

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 10:12 p.m. HST, Apr 01, 2014

As Pacific Tsunami Warning Center officials Tuesday evening issued a tsunami advisory for the islands, saying a major seismic wave is not expected in Hawaii, at least one Honolulu service station ran out of two grades of gasoline when motorists lined up to fill their tanks.

An employee of the French Wrench Shell on Ward Avenue said the station was out of regular and plus gasoline Tuesday night.

Meanwhile officials were expecting sea-level changes and strong currents to occur starting early Wednesday morning.

The advisory comes after a magnitude-8.2 quake struck off the coast of Chile Tuesday. It sent a tsunami of more than 6 feet to Chilean coastal cities.

"Based on all available data a major tsunami is not expected to strike the state of 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 persons near the shore at beaches and in harbors and marinas," the PTWC advisory said.

The threat may continue for several hours after the initial wave arrival at about 3:24 a.m., officials said.

Charles "Chip" McCreery, PTWC's geophysicist in charge, said a tsunami advisory means "there is a threat for swimmers -- strong currents, maybe minor flooding of beaches, harbors, but no real flooding of the land that would require a full evacuation."

"Everyone should be cautious around the ocean," he added.

The Honolulu Department of Emergency Management urged the public to stay out of the water Wednesday from 3 to 8 a.m., but stressed that no evacuations are necessary. "Swimmers, boaters, beachgoers stay out of the ocean and away from immediate shorelines until at least mid-morning tomorrow, Wednesday. Also stay away from streams and canals that feed directly from the ocean," the city bulletin said.

The Coast Guard advised the public to remain vigilant of hazardous currents and tidal surges Wednesday morning.

All mariners should "ensure that their vessels are secured for possible changes in sea conditions and that all individuals use caution when taking part in water activities," Coast Guard officials said.

"Stay out of the ocean overnight and tomorrow morning," Mayor Kirk Caldwell said in a news release. "Thankfully there is no destructive tsunami and it appears there will be no major threat to land on Oahu, but the earthquake in Chile may create dangerous ocean currents from 3 a.m. through the morning. Safety first."

PTWC officials have been updating state and county civil defense officials, McCreery said.

The quake struck at 8:46 p.m. in Iquique (1:46 p.m. Hawaii time), 59 miles northwest of Iquique, Chile, at a depth of 12.5 miles, according to preliminary information from the U.S. Geological Survey. It was initially measured at magnitude 8.0, but was upgraded to 8.2 by the USGS.

At least 10 aftershocks greater than magnitude 5.0 were recorded in the hours after the quake.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued an alert for all of Latin America's Pacific coast.

U.S. officials say they've found no threat of a tsunami along the coasts of Alaska, California, Oregon or Washington.

The tremor shook buildings in parts of the nearby nations of Bolivia and Peru. Waves measuring about 6 1/2 feet struck cities on the northern coast of Chile. 

In the past two weeks, hundreds of earthquakes have shaken Chile's far-northern coast, keeping people on edge as scientists said there was no way to tell if the unusual string of tremors was a harbinger of an impending disaster.

The unnerving activity began with a strong magnitude-6.7 quake on March 16 that caused more than 100,000 people to briefly evacuate low-lying areas, although no tsunami materialized and there was little physical damage from the shaking.

Chile is one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries. A magnitude-8.8 quake and ensuing tsunami in central Chile in 2010 killed more than 500 people, destroyed 220,000 homes, and washed away docks, riverfronts and seaside resorts. Hawaii was placed under a tsunami warning after that event but the islands did not suffer any major damage. The 2010 Chilean quake was about 1,200 miles south of Tuesday's quake.

The strongest earthquake ever recorded on Earth also happened in Chile, a magnitude-9.5 tremor in 1960 that killed more than 5,000 people. That quake sent a tsunami of up to 35 feet to Hilo, destroying buildings and killing 61 people.

Hawaii Island was also struck in April 1, 1946, when a 8.1-magnitude earthquake in the Aleutian Islands resulted in a tsunami that flooded downtown Hilo, killing 159 people. The state later ordered two neighborhoods permanently evacuated because of the inundation risk.

To commemorate that event, April 1 is the start of Tsunami Awareness Month in Hawaii.

The magnitude-8.9 earthquake that struck Japan in 2011 also triggered a tsunami in Hawaii, which left an estimated $30 million in damage in its wake. Private homes and hotels on Maui and the Big Island were damaged, including the Kona Village and Resort, which had some of its luxury bungalows either knocked from their foundations or inundated with water.


The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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yourname wrote:
April fools
on April 1,2014 | 02:24PM
PabloWegesend wrote:
Remember the Hilo tsunami?
on April 1,2014 | 02:32PM
yourname wrote:
April 1, 1946 originated in Chile...
on April 1,2014 | 02:37PM
imua67 wrote:
Actually, it originated in the Aleutian Islands on 1 April 1946
on April 1,2014 | 03:00PM
braddahneil wrote:
Nah that originated near the Aleutian Islands
on April 1,2014 | 03:01PM
niimi wrote:
on April 1,2014 | 05:07PM
Waterman2 wrote:
These events are very little understood. The PTWC does the best they can and generally do well, but as we really know so little about Tsunami, they have to act on the safety side. How would you like them to say right away that there is no threat to Hawaii and then a 40 foot surge happens? These are not surface generated waves folks, these are massive surges of water easily capable of flooding places like Waikiki some 2 stories high all the way past Alawai Canal numerous times. Imagine if you can the power of all that water rushing back out to sea taking everything not literally concreted into the ground with it. And as Waikiki is all castles built on sand, the erosion would be incredible. There is good reason to evacuate, if one says no title wave and one does come.....then what ? I for one am thankful the PTWC can do as well as they do. Thank you.
on April 1,2014 | 07:36PM
HealthyandHappy wrote:
I agree completely. We could be hit by an unexpected devastating Tsunami anytime.You can only master the ocean if you remain a student of the ocean
on April 1,2014 | 10:34PM
HanabataDays wrote:
Nobody can master the ocean. We are students all our lives.
on April 2,2014 | 01:11AM
8082062424 wrote:
Let hope for the best. but Hawaii been on borrowed time in a way. we have been spared natural disasters
on April 1,2014 | 02:28PM
GoldenRule wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on April 1,2014 | 03:38PM
GooglyMoogly wrote:
This is incorrect when talking about tsunamis. They lose very little of their energy even as they travel great distances (they actually collect energy as they move forward), and the first wave is usually not the strongest one. You can do what you want with regards to heeding warnings, but don't spread FUD.
on April 1,2014 | 03:45PM
lee1957 wrote:
Collect energy? Like a perpetual motion machine? Cold fusion?
on April 1,2014 | 06:18PM
HanabataDays wrote:
They don't collect energy, but they sure don't lose much either. A 35-foot tsunami in Hilo after the 1960 Chilean quake is all the evidence needed. Sure, Hilo Bay acts as a funnel for the waves, causing them to pile up higher. But they still had plenty of energy to take the lives of 61 people.
on April 2,2014 | 01:14AM
bumba wrote:
The stupid ones always get wiped out first. Just as well, natural selection, better for the species.
on April 1,2014 | 04:11PM
steven_mark wrote:
Goldenrule, according to the story, the 1960 tsunami that devastated Hilo originated in Chile too. And the 1946 tsunami started in Alaska, which is probably just as far away, if not farther. Obviously distance doesn't have much to do with it. Sea floor topology. There's obviously a lot to learn about tsunami prediction, but I wouldn't be so flippant about this yet.
on April 1,2014 | 04:26PM
hikine wrote:
Last time it was over exaggerated and the TV news coverage was a joke. Watched Waikiki for big waves on TV but we only saw someone's backyard where the water was painstakingly creeping and nothing happened while other parts of the islands were sustaining damage such as Keehi Lagoon! They always make it sound scary and bring out past tsunamis like it was happening real time. The tsunami center is an embarrassment and jumps the gun to evacuate residents and sets a panic at the same time. Next time no one will believe the warnings with so many false ones announced.
on April 1,2014 | 05:33PM
Datahorde wrote:
on April 1,2014 | 02:35PM
niimi wrote:
And the folks in Hilo Bay who saw the water go out were pummeled. Be serious.
on April 1,2014 | 05:09PM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
Whole lot of shaking going on!
on April 1,2014 | 02:36PM
HanabataDays wrote:
Eh, better grab the broom and sweep up the crumbs that fell off!
on April 2,2014 | 01:16AM
false wrote:
This what Hawaii really need seeing how the economy is tanking. This could be the end of this end. LOL and it not that funny.
on April 1,2014 | 03:16PM
loquaciousone wrote:
I think I'll go fishing tomorrow morning around 3:30 am.
on April 1,2014 | 03:17PM
GoldenRule wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on April 1,2014 | 03:28PM
HanabataDays wrote:
Vienna sausage? Going need one ten-gallon bucket for that, brah.
on April 2,2014 | 01:17AM
PokeStop wrote:
Better go get my Chili at Zippy's before the bugga get wiped out! Never know was that rattling good!
on April 1,2014 | 03:39PM
2NDC wrote:
Surfs up!
on April 1,2014 | 08:13PM
Retired_Navy_LDO wrote:
Based on the accuracy of the predictions from the last few years, I'm a bit worried. This may be the one that swings completely the other way -- they say no worry -- and then a 10 foot surge shows up at 0400. I'm not trying to be an alarmist but I don't have complete confidence in the science that predicts whether we will see a Tsunami or not. Regardless of what the prediction says I think I'll play it on the safe side.
on April 1,2014 | 09:04PM
HanabataDays wrote:
Like meteorologists, seismologists can't entirely escape the realities of human nature. "Busted" winter storm predictions put weatherfolks under a lot of public pressure, with claims that they're ratcheting up their alarmist warnings and crying "wolf" too many times. "Busted" tsunami predictions do the same, and human nature whispers to the seismologists "Don't overplay the next one." Beware those whispers!. But we have to own the responsibility for our personal decisions and actions. I, too, choose to err on the side of safety -- because I remember that '60 tsunami.
on April 2,2014 | 01:30AM
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