HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) canceled the Tsunami Watch for the state of Hawaii, effective 12:20 p.m. Thursday, March 4.
The Tsunami Watch was initially issued after an 8.1 magnitude earthquake struck near New Zealand at 9:30 a.m. Hawaii time, according to PTWC.
Dr. Laura Kong, Director of NOAA’s Tsunami Information Center said that researchers did not expect a large wave would be headed toward Hawaii due to the orientation of the earthquake, which was oriented north-south. “The physics says all of the energy or most of the energy goes for north-south, goes to the east and west. Hawaii , we are in the north. Most of the energy was directed not at us,” Dr. Kong said.
Dr. Kong also went on to say that generally, earthquakes within Hawaii, of a magnitude 6.9 are the threshold to possibly generate local tsunamis–they have in the past. For places such as Japan, Chile and Alaska, anything higher than a 7.0 would cause concern for Hawaii.
Though the watch has been canceled, residents are urged to have a plan in place and to be prepared for future events. Residents can sign up for emergency alerts from their counties.
- County of Hawaiʻi – Civil Defense Agency
- County of Maui – Maui Emergency Management Agency
- City and County of Honolulu – Department of Emergency Management
- County of Kauaʻi – Kauaʻi Emergency Management Agency
For future planning, residents can check whether they work or live in a tsunami evacuation zone using NOAA’s tsunami evacuation map.
The most devastating tsunami in Hawaii marked its 60th anniversary last year. The quiet town of Hilo was shaken when 61 lives were lost in May of 1960 when a tsunami was generated after a 9.5 magnitude earthquake struck Chile–the largest ever recorded in history. It took 15 hours for all the energy and water to move across the Pacific Ocean at 400 miles an hour to Hilo.