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The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center canceled the tsunami warning for Hawaii at 1:38 p.m. today. There were no immediate reports of damage and beaches were relatively calm as the tsunami caused only minor changes in ocean levels.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center is continuing to monitor wave activity for the next few hours, but says the danger has passed.
The leading edge of the tsunami was projected to arrive in Hilo shortly after 11 a.m. and deliver an 8-foot surge.
The first visual evidence of the tsunami were seen in Hilo Bay shortly after 11:30 a.m.
Video shown on Hawaii News Now showed water receding, leaving rocks exposed around Coconut Island.
At about 11:45, signs of an incoming surge were seen as water began to fill in exposed areas and strong surface ripples could be seen.
It wasn't violent or destructive, but it still was a dramatic view.
In Hilo, hundreds of residents gathered on streets in higher areas.
Police had closed streets leading into Hilo, and the waterfront looked like a ghost town.
"I hope I have one home after this," said Gordon Feliciano, 52, as he waited for the waves outside the inundation zone.
Hundreds lined the streets in the area, and many had gathered before dawn.
Pamela Sue Porter, of Kalapana, got to the area around 6 a.m.
"I am concerned," she said.
Similar scenes were played on Maui and Oahu. By the time the tsunami reached Kauai, the waves were about a foot in height.
Waves reaching heights of 1 meter reached Kahului Harbor, while waves just under 1 meter reached Hilo.
Scientists at the tsunami warning center said a bump was noticed along Kawaihae in West Hawaii and Kalaeloa on Oahu, but not more so far, they said.
Hilo Bay is continuing to fill and drain every 20 minutes, said warning center oceanographer Nathan Becker.
"This could get bigger, we don't know yet," Becker said. "The first wave is not necessarily the largest wave but very clearly this is a tsunami taking place in Hawaii right now."
Becker said the scientists will be on alert "until we start to see smaller waves," which could be the next two to three hours at the earliest.
"When we start to see smaller and smaller waves, and wave start to decay and shrink, that's when we'll probably use that to decide whether to cancel. But we're not there yet."
Becker said the action is close to what they had predicted for the event.
"It's probably better than expected in some ways, this is not as damaging as it could have been so far," he said. "But the arrival times are about right, and the wave heights are within what we expected so, so far, it's been very good." ~ source
Oahu officials are urging anyone who lives in a tsunami inundation zone to evacuate in advance of the waves hitting just after 11 a.m. today.
Warning sirens will start sounding at 6 a.m.
"If you live anywhere in the evacuation zone, you have to evacuate," said John Cummings, Oahu Emergency Management Department spokesman. "This is a serious event. We're going to treat this as a destructive-type tsunami."
The last time there were voluntary tsunami evacuations in Hawaii was in 1994.
Cummings said getting out of the inundation zone could be as simple as crossing the street or walking to higher ground.
He and others urged people to stay off the roads as much as possible.
After the warning sirens sound this morning, first responders and Civil Defense volunteers will start going door-to-door in coastal areas to tell people to evacuate.
Cummings also said that there will be city buses going up and down shoreline areas picking up anyone who needs to get out of the inundation zone.
The ride will be free and the special city buses will say "evacuation," Cummings said.
The buses will take people to safe areas where they can wait out the waves.
People in need of the ride can flag down the buses, and don't have to wait at bus stops, he said.
The tsunami expected to hit just after 11 a.m. will likely create the biggest problems in enclosed bay areas, including Hilo, Kahului, Haleiwa, where the waves could reach six to eight feet, officials said.
Along other shorelines, the waves are expected to be less than three feet, said Pacific Tsunami Warning Center geophysicist Brian Shiro.
He said the warning sirens that will go off at 6 a.m. and sound regularly as the tsunami gets closer mean that residents in tsunami inundation zones should evacuate.
He said people should not get in their cars to evacuate, but should walk to higher ground.
"All of our predictions and models are suggesting the tsunami in Hawaii is going to be less than three feet. That's not huge," he said. "But in places like Hilo Bay, Kahului, Haleiwa, the tsunami is going to probably get trapped and … be as high as 6 to 8 feet."
He urged people to stay away from the water. ~ source
The evacuations will begin at 6 a.m. Saturday (10 a.m. CST), KHON2.com reported.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center also issued a tsunami advisory for the coast of California and an Alaskan coastal area from Kodiak to Attu islands.
The first waves were expected to arrive in Hawaii at 11:19 a.m. (3:19 p.m. CST).
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