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Tsunami advisory canceled for Hawaii following Tonga eruption; small waves seen across state

Published: Jan. 15, 2022 at 1:24 AM HST|Updated: Jan. 15, 2022 at 2:12 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A tsunami advisory has been canceled for Hawaii following a large eruption in Tonga, and authorities reported small tsunami waves in several areas.

The advisory was issued because of the potential for sea level changes and strong currents along coastlines. Authorities were reporting minor coastal flooding in some spots.

On Maui, county officials said tsunami waves lifted a boat from its moorings and washed debris ashore in Hana. Assessments of any additional impacts were ongoing.

The Pacific Tsunami Warming Center said tide gauges off the islands reported peak wave amplitudes Saturday morning of 2.7 feet at Hanalei and Kahului, while Haleiwa had 2.3-foot tsunami waves.

Kawaihae and Honokohau each recorded waves of just over a foot.

“We can see that the waves outside of Tonga itself, the waves were going quite far but not quite so large, not the kind that we saw in 2011 like Japan or like we saw in 2009 in American Samoa,” said Pacific Tsunami Warning Center Director Chip McCreery.

“So we felt confident that there wasn’t going to be a big disaster outside of Tonga from this event, but certainly it is a hazard even at those smaller levels, pretty much on all coasts throughout the Pacific.”

Waves were continuous, arriving approximately 15 to 20 minutes apart.

The waves also arrived during the day’s highest tides, which occurred around the state around 2 a.m. to 3 a.m., with tides predicted as high as 2.3 feet.

The advisory was issued about 1 a.m. and canceled just before 8 a.m.

A tsunami advisory is issued for wave heights of 1 to 3 feet, and advisories were also issued for parts of Oregon, Washington, California and Alaska.

Unusual currents are still being reported statewide, prompting forecasters to urge vigilance.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center initially said there was no threat to Hawaii from the eruption, which did trigger tsunami waves in Tonga. There was no immediate word on damage there.

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