Hawaii dodged the tsunami bullet
The island state remained unharmed on February 27 when the islands were threatened by a tsunami as a result of the Chilean earthquake.
Monday, March 1, 2010 - 15:34
Photo: Sophie Gaze
After the 8.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Chile, Hawaii residents were notified to prepare for a tsunami. Warning sirens sounded on the hour beginning at 6 a.m. on Saturday as the residents of Hawaii woke up and braced themselves for the potential tsunami.
Officials said the waves might reach a height of 6 feet, although their exact magnitude could not be calculated. According to the current technology, the first waves were scheduled to arrive at about 11:05 a.m. in Hilo Bay on Hawaii, 11:37 on Oahu, and 11:42 on Kauai as the wave traveled through the island chain.
Hawaii residents faced the potential tsunami with cooperation and vigilance. Lines at gas stations began to build up. Residents rushed to grocery stores to stock up on water, and those who lived in the designated flood zones prepared their homes for a possible disaster.
Although authorities did not issue an official statewide evacuation, residents in particularly dangerous areas were advised to move to higher ground. In addition, those who owned boats vacated the harbors and moved to the open ocean.
Beaches, malls, schools, coastal roads and other threatened businesses were closed. The phone lines were also very busy as relatives and friends from the mainland called to ensure that their loved ones were safe and prepared.
It was a classic example of calm before the storm when usually populated places such as Waikiki Beach were deserted. Hawaii anxiously waited with bated breath for the first waves to hit.
The first detectable effects of the tsunami were seen in Hilo Bay just after 11:30 a.m. Streaming video on various news stations showed the tide rapidly move in and out in irregular cycles. The effects were particularly visible as rocks were exposed around Coconut Island. Effects similar to those at Hilo Bay were felt throughout the other islands.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center cancelled the tsunami warning at 1:38 p.m. Hawaii breathed a sigh of relief as island life more or less returned to normal. In this particular situation the residents of Hawaii had ample warning time to ready themselves for the tsunami.
Residents were above all impressed with the emergency preparation demonstrated by firefighters, police officers, medical personnel, lifeguards, news broadcasters and scientists who collaborated effectively to keep the islands informed about the events.
The experts who predicted the arrivals of the first waves were only off in their calculations by about a half hour. The tsunami, although minor, was a practice run for a potentially more damaging natural disaster. The scientists learned a great deal through this experience. They can use the knowledge to be more accurate for future events if they occur.
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