Saturday, the US state of Hawaii was under a tsunami warning following a 7.7 magnitude earthquake that hit Canada earlier that day. The tsunami hit Hawaii late Saturday without causing damage, however experts say the next waves could be much larger.
Hawaii was on red alert last night after a 7.7 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of British Columbia in Canada. Authorities released a tsunami warning for Hawaii and the first waves hit the land late Saturday. Whereas the first tsunami three feet high wave was less than what some had forecasted, experts with the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center say the worst hasn’t occurred yet.
“The tsunami arrived about when we expected it should” said senior geophysicist Gerard Fryer in a press statement. “I was expecting it to be a little bigger” he added. And so have others, fearing the tsunami would be up to six feet high. “Typically, the first wave is not the largest. If the waves are big, the all-clear may take six or seven hours” he added.
But as images from a television on the island of Oahu showed, the first tsunami waves were pretty small. Although it didn’t meet the high expectations of reporters looking for a story, it’s a good thing the first tsunami waves that struck Hawaii were this small, since authorities and people had little time to react to the warning.
The tsunami warning prompted confusion and then chaos, as Hawaii dealt with traffic congestions since everybody tried to flee to higher areas. According to scientists at the Tsunami Warning Center there were 100,000 to 150,000 people living in risk coastal zones who were urged to move to higher ground.
Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle told Hawaii News Now the situation is “very, very dangerous”. “If you are stuck in traffic, you might consider getting out of your car and consider walking to a higher ground. You will have to assess your own situation, depending on where you are right now. Right now it is critical” he added.
Following the destructive tsunami that hit Oahu in March 2011, everybody in Hawaii is taking tsunami warnings seriously. Movie theatres halted their programs and urged clients to go home. Hotels also took precautions even if the first waves were not as big as expected.
“Non-essential hotel functions were shut down fast, and restaurants across the island closed early” said Wilson Rothman with NBC News. “Our hotel asked all guests to evacuate ‘vertically’ to the 4th, 5th or 6th floor, and asked guests on those floors to ‘make new friends’”, he added.