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What is a ‘tsunami warning’ and what should I do?

** A tsunami watch was issued for Hawaii shores at 12:46 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 27 following a massive earthquake off Chile. Officials predict any tsunami generated by that 8.8M earthquake may reach Hawaii shores by 11:19 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 27 **

A tsunami warning means a dangerous tsunami may have been generated and could be close to your area. Warnings are issued when an earthquake is detected that meets the location and magnitude criteria for the generation of a tsunami.

The warning includes predicted tsunami arrival times at selected coastal communities within the geographic area defined by the maximum distance the tsunami could travel in a few hours.

What to Do When a Tsunami Warning Is Issued

You should:

  • Use a NOAA Weather Radio or stay tuned to a Coast Guard emergency frequency station, or a local radio or television station for updated emergency information.
  • Follow instructions issued by local authorities. Recommended evacuation routes may be different from the one you planned, or you may be advised to climb higher. Remember, authorities will issue a warning only if they believe there is a real threat from tsunami.
  • If you hear an official tsunami warning or detect signs of a tsunami, evacuate at once. A tsunami warning is issued when authorities are certain that a tsunami threat exists, and there may be little time to get out.
  • Take your Disaster Supplies Kit. Having supplies will make you more comfortable during the evacuation.
  • Get to higher ground as far inland as possible. Officials cannot reliably predict either the height or local effects of tsunamis.
  • Watching a tsunami from the beach or cliffs could put you in grave danger. If you can see the wave, you are too close to escape it.
  • Return home only after local officials tell you it is safe. A tsunami is a series of waves that may continue for hours. Do not assume that after one wave the danger is over. The next wave may be larger than the first one. In several cases, people survived the first wave and returned to homes and businesses only to be trapped and killed by later, sometimes larger, waves in the series.
  • If you evacuate, take your animals with you. If it is not safe for you, it is not safe for your animals.
  • If you cannot escape a wave, climb onto a roof or up a tree, or grab a floating object and hang on until help arrives. Some people have survived tsunami waves by using these last-resort methods.

FOR CURRENT INFORMATION Listen to local radio, television broadcasts, internet media

Local sources for information in Hawai’i include:

NOAA Weather Radio Broadcasts on following frequencies:
162.550 MHZ
162.400 MHZ

NOAA Weather Radio Broadcasts recording phone numbers:
Maui: (808) 871-6706
Lanai: (808) 565-6033
Molokai: (808) 552-2477

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