Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issues no warning after earthquake

Gerard Fryer
Gerard Fryer

By Roger Mari - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - In some cases, earthquakes could trigger a tsunami, but that was not the case on Monday.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center alerts the public in the event of a potential tidal wave.

Monday's earthquake might not have generated a tsunami, but it was a good drill for officials at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

When you're talking about tsunami generating earthquakes, size doesn't matter as much as location. In Monday's event, the earthquake was too deep to pose any serious threat.

"You have to have an earthquake which changes the shape of the ocean bottom too fast for water to flow out of the way and for that to happen in the Hawaiian islands you need a 6.8, 6.9 earthquake," said geophysicist Gerard Fryer.

The earthquake struck at about 9:45 off the Haumakua coast on the big island. It took 4 minutes to get the word out to emergency officials, but Gerard Fryer of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center believes that response time could be improved.

"We can actually do a little better than that if we're really on the ball we can get it down to three minutes we're hoping to get the time down to two minutes to say whether or not there's a tsunami hazard," said Fryer.

Hawaii is well prepared for a tsunami coming from across the ocean where there can be as much as a 3 hour warning.

Fryer says in local events it can be difficult getting the word out to enough people. He suggests people arm themselves with a weather radio.

"It did work, it said there was an event, there is no tsunami hazard," said Fryer.

Living in the pacific region makes us vulnerable to all kinds of natural disasters. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center hopes to prevent any casualties from tsunamis like the one off the Kilauea coast that killed 2 people in 1975.

People are urged to listen for the sirens following an earthquake, and know to where to go to evacuate.

Maps of evacuation zones can be found in the phone book.