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Tsunami threat passes by Hawaii after 8.0M quake in Samoa

Hilo Bay during the Tsunami Advisory (Photography by Baron Sekiya | Hawaii 24/7)

Ocean surges move through Hilo Bay at 3:15 p.m. some seven hours after an 8.0 magnitude earthquake in Samoa generated a tsunami and pushed wave action to Hawaii. Photography by Baron Sekiya | Hawaii 24/7

Ocean surges move through Hilo Bay at 3:15 p.m. over seven hours after an 8.0 magnitude earthquake rocked Samoa generated a tsunami there and pushed wave action to Hawaii. Photography by Baron Sekiya | Hawaii 24/7

Karin Stanton/Hawaii247 Contributing Editor

UPDATE 2:35 a.m. Wednesday, Sept 30

Hawaii breathed with relief Tuesday morning when authorities lifted a tsunami warning, triggered by an 8.0 magnitude earthquake off the Samoan islands.

Although it proved deadly in Samoa, the tsunami hardly made a ripple in Hawaii

County and state authorities issued the warning shortly after 8 a.m., but downgraded the threat before 10:30 a.m. Still, some precautions were made.

At least one school in West Hawaii cancelled classes, beaches were closed and some water activities and tours opted not to operate.

County beachers are expected to open Wednesday morning.

PAGO, PAGO, American Samoa - U.S. Coast Guard Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Team (SCAT) members from Coast Guard Sector Honolulu and Marine Safety Detachment American Samoa survey pollution and debris, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Petty Officer 3rd Class Luke Clayton)

PAGO, PAGO, American Samoa - U.S. Coast Guard Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Team (SCAT) members from Coast Guard Sector Honolulu and Marine Safety Detachment American Samoa survey pollution and debris, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Petty Officer 3rd Class Luke Clayton)

Meanwhile, Samoan islands begin to deal with the aftermath of four tsunami waves crashing into the shores and racing up to a mile inland. The height of the waves was reported between 15 and 20 feet.

Reports coming from the area indicate entire villages were inundated and the death toll of 99 is likely to climb.

Power was out in and communication was hampered; rock slides covered roadways; and towns remain water-logged. Injuries number in the hundreds.

A handful of deaths also were reported in Tonga.

The quake was centered about 125 miles from Samoa, which is about halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii and has a population of 180,000. It was about 120 miles from American Samoa, a U.S. territory that is home to 65,000 people. It was about 20 miles deep.

By Tuesday night, Hawaii Air and Army National Guard announced 86 medical, search and rescue, and communications specialists would be dispatched immediately to American Samoa.

A C-17 cargo jet is expected to leave from Hickam Air Force Base early Wednesday.

PAGO, PAGO, American Samoa - A Honolulu-based U.S. Coast Guard C-130 long-range search plane from Air Station Barbers Point arrives in Pago Pago, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009, to deliver aid and assess damage after a powerful earthquake and tsunami hit the U.S. territory. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Petty Officer 3rd Class Luke Clayton)

PAGO, PAGO, American Samoa - A Honolulu-based U.S. Coast Guard C-130 long-range search plane from Air Station Barbers Point arrives in Pago Pago, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009, to deliver aid and assess damage after a powerful earthquake and tsunami hit the U.S. territory. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Petty Officer 3rd Class Luke Clayton)

A Coast Guard C-130 plane with FEMA officials and American Samoa Gov. Togiola Tulafono aboard left Honolulu on Tuesday afternoon.

UPDATE 6:25 p.m.

“It was inconvenient in that we closed the beaches,” said Bill Hanson, administrative office in Hilo. “We have to err on the side of caution. We did get one complaint about ‘why did you close the parks?'”

Hilo recorded a 0.5 foot rise in sea level, on top of about 3-4 foot waves.

Hanson said although county departments performed well, there is always room to improve and be more prepared.

“We did fairly well. There was some good cohesion,” Hanson said. “It was the real thing. At the last minute we got faked out, but we learn so much.”

In addition to the county parks, Kamehameha Schools close its Honaunau Preschool.

Warnings, watches, alerts
A tsunami warning was in effect for American Samoa, Samoa, Niue Island, the Wallis and Futuna Islands, the Tokelau atolls, the Cook Islands, Tuvalu, Kiribati, the Kermadec Islands, the Baker and Howland Islands, Jarvis Island, French Polynesia, the Palmyra Islands, Tonga and Fiji.

A tsunami watch was issued for Hawaii, Vanuatu, the Marshall Islands, Solomon Island, Johnston Island, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Wake Island, Midway Island and Pitcairn.

In New Zealand, a tsunami alert was issued by national Civil Defense, and the nation’s national emergency center was activated.

UPDATE 1:33 p.m.

The state civil defense said Hawaii will be under a tsunami advisory until at least 7 p.m., with wave heights up to 3 feet expected in some areas across the state.

The tsunami watch was issued at 8:05 a.m. and canceled at 10:23 a.m.

State harbors have been advised of unusual wave and current

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center is continuing to monitor the situation.

On the Big Island, Parks & Recreation Department chief Bob Fitzgerald said he had no reports of injury or problems related to the tsunami threat.

“The currents out there are pretty mean.We’ve closed all the beaches, basically letting nobody in the water,” he said. “We’ve closed all the gates, put up signs, whatever we can to tell people not to go in the water.”

Some campers also have been advised to leave county parks, he said.

Fitzgerald said he and his staff would call the police in an effort to protect anyone trying to get into the water.

It is not clear whether state parks also are closed, but Fitzgerald urged people to use caution and not try to swim, surf or paddle for the rest of Tuesday.

“I’m assuming the state followed our lead, but I can’t really speak for them,”  he said. “I am sure they closed the water at Hapuna, though.”

UPDATE 1:15 p.m.

Mayor Billy Kenoi regularly spends Tuesdays in Kailua-Kona, but cancelled his schedule and returned to Hilo upon learning of the tsunami threat.

Kenoi and the rest of the county’s emergency services crew were based at Civil Defense.

UPDATE 1:10 p.m.

A tsunami threat following a 8.3 earthquake early Tuesday near American Samoa caused some concern across the Pacific, although Hawaii appears to have ducked disaster.

The county Civil Defense dropped a tsunami watch, but cautioned that tides, sea levels and wave activity could be ‘unusual’ through the rest of the day.

The threat did not stop the dedication of Hulihee Palace following $1.5 million renovations to repair damage from the October 2006 earthquakes.

Visitors also were enjoying a typical sunny day in Kailua-Kona.

Nearly 2,000 guests from the cruise ship Rapsody of the Seas strolled Alii Drive during their stop in Kona.

The captain announced there had a tsunami watch, but it had been cancelled, passengers said.

“At first we wondered if we should stay on the ship, but the captain said it was OK, so we decided to come ashore,” said Barbara Henderson, 71, of Darlington, England. “This is my first visit to the Pacific. We sure don’t thing like this at home.”

Her companion said she was enjoying the scenery, but also was excited to share she adventures with friends and family.

“It certainly gives us something to talk about when we get home.”

Ocean watchers at Kailua Pier were anticipating the surge, which was likely to occur between 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Rumors earlier in the morning had a wave topping 10 feet slamming into West Hawaii.

By 10:30 a.m. the county Civil Defense Agency had cancelled the tsunami watch, but issued an advisory.

All Big Island beaches will remain closed through Wednesday.

Hawaii247 will update as new information becomes available.

UPDATED ( 10:42 a.m. 9/29/09)

Hawaii County Civil Defense is advising all residents to avoid shoreline areas due to the Tsunami Advisory in effect for the Hawaiian Islands. All beaches will be closed until tomorrow due to possible surges and unusual currents from the earthquake in Samoa.

BULLETIN
TSUNAMI MESSAGE NUMBER 3
NWS PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER EWA BEACH HI
1023 AM HST TUE SEP 29 2009

TO – CIVIL DEFENSE IN THE STATE OF HAWAII

SUBJECT – TSUNAMI WATCH CANCELLATION…TSUNAMI ADVISORY IN EFFECT

THE TSUNAMI WATCH IS CANCELLED FOR THE STATE OF HAWAII EFFECTIVE AT 1023 AM HST AND A TSUNAMI ADVISORY IS IN EFFECT.

AN EARTHQUAKE HAS OCCURRED WITH THESE PRELIMINARY PARAMETERS

ORIGIN TIME – 0748 AM HST 29 SEP 2009
COORDINATES – 15.3 SOUTH 171.0 WEST
LOCATION – SAMOA ISLANDS REGION
MAGNITUDE – 8.3 MOMENT
MAGNITUDE – 8.0 RICHTER (MS)

MEASUREMENTS OR REPORTS OF TSUNAMI WAVE ACTIVITY

GAUGE LOCATION LAT LON TIME AMPL PER
——————- —– —— —– ————— —–
RAROTONGA CK 21.2S 159.8W 1951Z 0.47M / 1.5FT 08MIN
APIA UPOLU WS 13.8S 171.8W 1832Z 0.70M / 2.3FT 08MIN
PAGO PAGO AS 14.3S 170.7W 1812Z 1.57M / 5.1FT 04MIN

LAT – LATITUDE (N-NORTH, S-SOUTH)
LON – LONGITUDE (E-EAST, W-WEST)
TIME – TIME OF THE MEASUREMENT (Z IS UTC IS GREENWICH TIME)
AMPL – TSUNAMI AMPLITUDE MEASURED RELATIVE TO NORMAL SEA LEVEL.
IT IS …NOT… CREST-TO-TROUGH WAVE HEIGHT.
VALUES ARE GIVEN IN BOTH METERS(M) AND FEET(FT).
PER – PERIOD OF TIME IN MINUTES(MIN) FROM ONE WAVE TO THE NEXT.

EVALUATION

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 THE COAST THAT COULD BE A HAZARD TO SWIMMERS…BOATERS AND BEACHES. THEREFORE THE TSUNAMI WATCH FOR HAWAII IS CANCELLED BUT A TSUNAMI ADVISORY IS IN EFFECT.

THE ESTIMATED TIME SUCH EFFECTS MIGHT BEGIN IS

100 PM HST TUE 29 SEP 2009

UNLESS FURTHER INFORMATION IS RECEIVED THE ADVISORY IS IN EFFECT UNTIL
700 PM HST TUE 29 SEP 2009

THIS WILL BE THE FINAL MESSAGE ISSUED FOR THIS EVENT UNLESS ADDITIONAL DATA ARE RECEIVED.

Pacific Area Bulletin

TSUNAMI BULLETIN NUMBER 004
PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER/NOAA/NWS
ISSUED AT 2136Z 29 SEP 2009

THIS BULLETIN APPLIES TO AREAS WITHIN AND BORDERING THE PACIFIC OCEAN AND ADJACENT SEAS…EXCEPT ALASKA…BRITISH COLUMBIA… WASHINGTON…OREGON AND CALIFORNIA.

… TSUNAMI WARNING AND WATCH CANCELLATION …

THE TSUNAMI WARNING AND/OR WATCH ISSUED BY THE PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER IS NOW CANCELLED FOR

AMERICAN SAMOA / SAMOA / NIUE / WALLIS-FUTUNA / TOKELAU / COOK ISLANDS / TONGA / TUVALU / KIRIBATI / KERMADEC IS / FIJI / HOWLAND-BAKER / JARVIS IS. / NEW ZEALAND / FR. POLYNESIA / PALMYRA IS. / VANUATU / NAURU / MARSHALL IS. / SOLOMON IS. / JOHNSTON IS. / NEW CALEDONIA / KOSRAE / PAPUA NEW GUINEA / HAWAII / POHNPEI / WAKE IS. / PITCAIRN / MIDWAY IS. / CHUUK / AUSTRALIA / MARCUS IS. / N. MARIANAS / GUAM / INDONESIA / ANTARCTICA / YAP

THIS BULLETIN IS ISSUED AS ADVICE TO GOVERNMENT AGENCIES. ONLY NATIONAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT AGENCIES HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO MAKE DECISIONS REGARDING THE OFFICIAL STATE OF ALERT IN THEIR AREA AND ANY ACTIONS TO BE TAKEN IN RESPONSE.

AN EARTHQUAKE HAS OCCURRED WITH THESE PRELIMINARY PARAMETERS

ORIGIN TIME – 1748Z 29 SEP 2009
COORDINATES – 15.3 SOUTH 171.0 WEST
DEPTH – 33 KM
LOCATION – SAMOA ISLANDS REGION
MAGNITUDE – 8.3

MEASUREMENTS OR REPORTS OF TSUNAMI WAVE ACTIVITY

GAUGE LOCATION        LAT   LON    TIME        AMPL         PER
-------------------  ----- ------  -----  ---------------  -----
PAPEETE TAHITI       17.5S 149.6W  2123Z   0.11M /  0.4FT  10MIN
NUKUALOFA TO         21.1S 175.2W  2007Z   0.14M /  0.5FT  14MIN
PENRHYN CK            9.0S 158.1W  2102Z   0.08M /  0.3FT  04MIN
RAROTONGA CK         21.2S 159.8W  1951Z   0.47M /  1.5FT  08MIN
APIA UPOLU WS        13.8S 171.8W  1832Z   0.70M /  2.3FT  08MIN
PAGO PAGO AS         14.3S 170.7W  1812Z   1.57M /  5.1FT  04MIN

LAT  - LATITUDE (N-NORTH, S-SOUTH)
LON  - LONGITUDE (E-EAST, W-WEST)
TIME - TIME OF THE MEASUREMENT (Z IS UTC IS GREENWICH TIME)
AMPL - TSUNAMI AMPLITUDE MEASURED RELATIVE TO NORMAL SEA LEVEL.
       IT IS ...NOT... CREST-TO-TROUGH WAVE HEIGHT.
       VALUES ARE GIVEN IN BOTH METERS(M) AND FEET(FT).
PER  - PERIOD OF TIME IN MINUTES(MIN) FROM ONE WAVE TO THE NEXT.

EVALUATION

SEA LEVEL READINGS INDICATE A TSUNAMI WAS GENERATED. IT MAY HAVE BEEN DESTRUCTIVE ALONG COASTS NEAR THE EARTHQUAKE EPICENTER. FOR THOSE AREAS – WHEN NO MAJOR WAVES ARE OBSERVED FOR TWO HOURS AFTER THE ESTIMATED TIME OF ARRIVAL OR DAMAGING WAVES HAVE NOT OCCURRED FOR AT LEAST TWO HOURS THEN LOCAL AUTHORITIES CAN ASSUME THE THREAT IS PASSED. DANGER TO BOATS AND COASTAL STRUCTURES CAN CONTINUE FOR SEVERAL HOURS DUE TO RAPID CURRENTS. AS LOCAL CONDITIONS CAN CAUSE A WIDE VARIATION IN TSUNAMI WAVE ACTION THE ALL CLEAR DETERMINATION MUST BE MADE BY LOCAL AUTHORITIES.

NO TSUNAMI THREAT EXISTS FOR OTHER COASTAL AREAS ALTHOUGH SOME MAY EXPERIENCE SMALL SEA LEVEL CHANGES. FOR ALL AREAS COVERED BY THIS CENTER…THE TSUNAMI WARNING AND WATCH ARE CANCELLED.

THIS WILL BE THE FINAL BULLETIN ISSUED FOR THIS EVENT UNLESS ADDITIONAL INFORMATION BECOMES AVAILABLE.

THE WEST COAST/ALASKA TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER WILL ISSUE PRODUCTS FOR ALASKA…BRITISH COLUMBIA…WASHINGTON…OREGON…CALIFORNIA.

3 Responses to “Tsunami threat passes by Hawaii after 8.0M quake in Samoa”

  1. YourMom says:

    Wow, that video of Hilo Bay was amazing. It was the most amazing NOTHING I have ever seen. What an idiot. It isn't there yet AND it will be small and long in period. Duh… oh, and let's park the trucks on the beach in case it is really big!

  2. ruth says:

    if you actually watched the video and saw what the ocean was doing it WAS amazing. You could see the movement in the water as it swelled and receded. The power is subtle, pay more attention.

  3. Pavlov says:

    What do the hashtags #tsunami and #hawaii mean for blogviews?
    ——> http://bit.ly/cc85Pt

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