Hawaii kicked off "Tsunami Awareness Month" with an actual tsunami advisory. A river of tsunami energy impacted the islands starting at 3:45 AM.
"You know tsunami waves in Hawaii; they wrap around our island," said Dr. Chip McCreery, Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. "It makes a very complex wave field."
Experts at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center say that it all started with the Big Island as minimal surges approached Hawaii, rising to a tenth of a meter, right before 4 AM. Then about 20 minutes later, gauges moved up to about 1.5 ft. at Hilo then gradually buoy data along the smaller islands showed increases.
"The biggest amplitudes we saw were over Hilo," said McCreery.
Between 5 and 6 a.m., we experienced the most significant readings that were recorded on the Big Island and on Maui with both peaking more than 3 ft from the bottom of the wave to top. Readings reached under a foot on both Oahu and Kauai.
McCreery said that it may not sound like a lot, but he says such activity can be dangerous for swimmers, surfers, boarders, and boaters (even the best watermen).
"Just a foot in amplitude that change in amplitude happens in just a few minutes," said McCreery. "It creates very strong currents and that is really the main danger," he sighed. "When you have a tsunami fluctuation of a couple of feet that is happening of a time period of maybe five minutes is moving a lot of water."
Cameras showed that it was fairly calm in Waikiki at 3:25 AM. Then there were signs of the ocean behaving 'disoriented' or 'disorganized' as the tsunami energy impacted the South Shore after 4 a.m. This forced popular locations like Hanauma Bay to close its gates for the day.
"Thankfully this was not a destructive flooding tsunami for Hawaii," said McCreery.
At 7:25 AM, statewide gauges showed diminishing tsunami wave activity, allowing for the advisory to be lifted.
"(It) serves as a good alert and reminder to everyone to be prepared, and sometime in the future we will have more destructive tsunamis in Hawaii," said McCreery.
As we enter Tsunami Awareness Month, this minor event can remind us to be ready for a potential warning level tsunami; especially since we live in the Pacific Ocean and we are close enough to the impacts of earthquakes.