Tsunami advisory canceled as wave heights subside

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has ended the tsunami advisory for the state of Hawaii.

Small sea level changes and strong or unusual currents may persist for several additional hours in some coastal areas and appropriate caution should be exercised by boaters and swimmers.

“Before going into the water, I urge the public to check with a lifeguard,” said Ocean Safety Bureau Supervisor Kalani Vierra. “They should also watch the waves for a while and look for anything unusual.”

Wave heights were in line with what scientists predicted, reaching three feet in Hilo, 2.2 feet in Kahului and less than half a foot in Nawiliwili, Kauai and Honolulu.

At 6 a.m., the coastal gauge in Hilo showed water rising a foot above tide level. That measurement had to remain consistent for at least another hour before the tsunami advisory was canceled.

Earlier in Honolulu Harbor, in comparison, showed a wave increase of only a few inches.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reported the following tsunami wave observations in Hawaii:

Gauge Location Gauge Coordinates Time of Measure (UTC) Maximum Tsunami Height Wave Period (Minutes)
Hilo 19.7N 155.1W 1347 0.70M/2.3FT 16
Hilo 19.7N 155.1W 1406 0.93M/3.0FT 18
Kalaupapa 21.2N 157.0W 1406 0.08M/0.3FT 16
Makapuu 21.3N 157.7W 1417 0.01M/0.0FT 14
Kawaihae 20.0N 155.8W 1426 0.27M/0.9FT 16
Honolulu 21.3N 157.9W 1432 0.06M/0.2FT 14
Kahului 20.9N 156.5W 1435 0.66M/2.2FT 18
Nawiliwili 22.0N 159.4W 1602 0.13M/0.4FT 06

Note: The maximum tsunami height is measured with respect to the normal tide level.

Geologist Chip McCreery said that wave activity has been within the range of models set by the center.

Scientists monitored the tsunami wave cycles, maybe within the range of 5-7 cycles. McCreery said that American Samoa, who first felt the effects of the tsunami, said that the largest cycle was the 7th one, so there was some variability.

“It’s just a waiting period to watch it evolve,” he said. “If something changes, we’ll report it, but we’re not expecting to elevate the level from the current tsunami advisory.”

McCreery says advances in technology and analysis are leading to more accurate models.

“It’s a huge amount of data that we get now that we didn’t used to get when I started working for the PTWC, which was about 20 years ago,” he said. “We received data from eight seismic stations outside the state of Hawaii and now we get almost 600 seismic stations from outside the state.

“Hopefully improvements will continue to happen and we can do like we did today for a lot of tsunamis, which is prevent having a full evacuation which disrupts our society quite a bit and just have advisory level events when they’re appropriate,” McCreery added.

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