Tsunami waves begin to arrive in Hawaii

Gov. Abercrombie watches televised tsunami coverage.
Gov. Abercrombie watches televised tsunami coverage.

By Howard Dicus - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - No devastation has befallen the Hawaiian Islands from the Pacific tsunami Friday, but unusual waves are still coming in which validate the decision of officials to evacuate shoreline areas.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center at Ewa Beach cautioned residents that it is not unusual for tsunami waves to come in for several hours - in 1956 when a killer tsunami struck the islands, the waves came in all day - so forecasters kept their tsunami warning in effect.

At least wave over six feet came shore at Kahului, Maui, and water crossed the beach to flow across Kaahumanu Ave., which at one point had six to eight inches of water on the pavement.

Unusual ebb and flow of the ocean exposed the reef at Waikiki, and the Ala Wai canal in back of the tourist district experienced several dramatic tidal changes when the water flowed rapidly upstream.

The Hawaii County Fire Department reported a surge in the Wailoa River at Hilo.

The motion of the ocean was tame enough at Waikiki for some people to defy evacuation orders and walk out to a cupola at the end of a dock at Queen's Surf beach, confounding emergency personnel who tried without success to shoo them ashore.

Emergency responders sounded two different warnings Friday morning: that bigger waves could still be on the way, and that if the worst was already over, responders would need time to check for hazards before letting people back to the shore.

"Emergency responders will assess the ocean and beach conditions to determine the extent of damage and dangers," Honolulu officials said in a notice.

"The official 'All Clear,'" the notice said, "will be issued exclusively by Mayor Peter Carlisle based on shoreline hazard information received from city responders."

"Even after the last wave passes roads must remain clear so that utility workers can restore services which were shut down," said Maui County Civil Defense.

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