Tsunami Advisory canceled for Hawaii following 8.3 quake off Chile

5 a.m Sunrise update
Published: Sep. 16, 2015 at 5:10 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 17, 2015 at 2:02 PM HST
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Image: USGS
Image: USGS
Hilo Bay webcam shows before and after photos at around 6 a.m.
Hilo Bay webcam shows before and after photos at around 6 a.m.

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Tsunami Advisory for Hawaii was canceled Thursday after officials said wave levels dropped enough that conditions would not be a threat to the state.

The advisory, which was lifted at around 7:40 a.m., was originally issued Wednesday at approximately 3 p.m. after a strong earthquake shook an area near Chile. A Tsunami Advisory is issued when the threat of a tsunami may produce strong currents or waves dangerous to those in or near the water.

The quake was measured at a preliminary magnitude of 7.9, but later upgraded to 8.3 according to the U.S. Geological Survey.  It was centered near the coast of Central Chile and happened at 1 p.m. HST.

The first tsunami wave arrived near Hilo at around 3:11 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 17 with a 2.1-foot increase in sea level, according to tide gauges. The largest wave activity occurred at around 4:30 a.m., where waves were about 3 feet above the normal tide level. Tsunami waves crossed the entire state, with 2.2-foot increases near Kahului, 4.8-inch increases near Nawiliwili and 2.4-inch increases near Honolulu.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center is continuing to monitor changes throughout the morning.

U.S. Coast Guard officials in Hawaii said as of Thursday morning, there were no reports of any major impacts or damage to Hawaii boaters, harbors or ports. Meanwhile, lifeguards and county officials say, while the Tsunami Advisory has been lifted, beachgoers should use caution when entering the water.

There have been several tsunamis over the years generated by Chilean earthquakes. Only three have been dangerous: in 1837, 1877 and 1960. The 1960 tsunami from Chile was caused by a massive earthquake, far larger than today's. The earthquake was measured at 9.6 on the Richter scale and caused massive waves that killed 61 people on the Big Island. Five years ago, a magnitude 8.8 quake in Chile caused waves that reached about six feet on Maui and smaller waves on other islands. And in 2014, a quake similar in size to today's led to an advisory that lasted 14 hours. Waves measured at most about two to three feet.

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