Tsunami strikes Hanalei overnight

HANALEI — All of the Hawaiian Islands were under a tsunami warning Saturday night following an earthquake off of the coast of Canada.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reported that at 11:07 p.m. the tsunami waves reached Hanalei with 6 inch waves in the first wave set.

The biggest waves were expected at Hanalei during the tsunami event, according to the PTWC. Their office noted the third wave set is typically the strongest.

The tsunami was forecasted to make landfall at 10:28 p.m., following a 7.7 magnitude earthquake, followed by a 5.8 magnitude aftershock in the Queen Charlotte Islands area off of the coast of British Columbia in Canada, according to the U.S. Geographical Survey.

All Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau residents and visitors in coastal areas and/or tsunami inundation zones and low-lying areas were ordered to evacuate immediately to higher ground.

The County of Kaua‘i opened 11 shelters in the hours leading up the tsunami.

Of those, Koloa School and King Kaumuali‘i Elementary School both filled to capacity and people were redirected to other school sites. ‘Ele‘ele School had a water issue and people were asked to relocate.

The Kaua‘i Police Department closed all roads leading to tsunami inundation areas and asked motorists to stay off of roadways.

The Civil Air Patrol flew over Ni‘ihau warning residents to head for higher ground.

“We do considerable outreach with persons with disabilities and assist them to develop an evacuation plan before an emergency happens. They should have a plan in place with family members and/or others to assist,” said Kaua‘i Director of Communications Beth Tokioka.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed an emergency proclamation to hand the governor emergency powers to deal with natural and man-made disasters or emergencies. The proclamation can be read at http://1.usa.gov/UTQyO4 online.

According to the PTWC’s website, the danger from a tsunami can continue for many hours after the initial wave as subsequent waves arrive. Tsunami wave heights cannot be predicted and the first wave may not be the largest.

Tsunami waves efficiently wrap around islands and all shores are at risk no matter which direction they face, per the PTWC. Debris picked up and carried by a tsunami amplifies its destructive power. Simultaneous high tides or high surf can significantly increase the tsunami hazard.

See Monday’s edition of The Garden Island for more details.

• Laurie Cicotello, business writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 257) or business@thegardenisland.com


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