No major tsunami expected for Hawaii after 8.3M earthquake off Chile

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center says no major tsunami is expected for the state of Hawaii after an 8.3-magnitude earthquake that occurred of the coast of Chile.

Based on all available data a major tsunami is not expected to strike the state of Hawaii. However sea level changes and strong currents may occur along all coasts that could be a hazard to swimmers and boaters as well as to persons near the shore at beaches and in harbors and marinas.

The threat may continue for several hours after the initial wave arrival, which is expected at 3:11 a.m. HST on Thursday, Sept. 17.


An earthquake has occurred with these preliminary parameters:

  • MAGNITUDE 8.3
  • ORIGIN TIME 2254 UTC SEP 16 2015
  • COORDINATES 31.5 SOUTH 72.0 WEST
  • DEPTH 10 KM / 6 MILES
  • LOCATION NEAR THE COAST OF CENTRAL CHILE

hawaii.TSUHWX.2015.09.16.2309 REV

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center previously issued a tsunami watch, which means a tsunami is possible. The latest tsunami advisory, which was issued at 3:23 p.m., replaces the watch and clarifies the threat level for Hawaii.

In this case, we now know a major tsunami is not expected, however, Hawaii could experience sea level changes and strong currents. This means people are urged to stay away from shorelines, harbors and marinas.

“The watch, which is what we’re in until just now that’s basically a head’s up that something’s happening and we’d like you to pay attention,” explained Gerard Fryer, Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. “A watch always is replaced by some other product, like a warning or maybe a cancellation. A warning means you’ve got to evacuate. An advisory means you don’t have to evacuate. The sirens will not sound, but it means just stay off the beach and out of the water.”


Current Closures and Cancellations

  • Siren testing on Oahu originally scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 17, at Ala Wai Golf Course, Ala Wai Regional Park, and Wailupe Beach Park.
  • Maui County budget meeting originally scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at Kihei Community Center.
  • Kipahulu campground at Haleakala National Park (Maui) is closed until further notice.

What is a Tsunami Watch?

A tsunami watch is issued to alert emergency management officials and the public of an event which may later impact the watch area. The watch area may be upgraded to a warning or canceled based on updated information and analysis. Therefore, emergency management officials and the public should prepare to take action. Watches are normally issued based on seismic information without confirmation that a destructive tsunami is underway.

What is a Tsunami Advisory?

A tsunami advisory is issued due to the threat of a potential tsunami which may produce strong currents or waves dangerous to those in or near the water. Coastal regions historically prone to damage due to strong currents induced by tsunamis are at the greatest risk. The threat may continue for several hours after the arrival of the initial wave, but significant widespread inundation is not expected for areas under an advisory. Appropriate actions to be taken by local officials may include closing beaches, evacuating harbors and marinas, and the repositioning of ships to deep waters when there is time to safely do so. Advisories are normally updated to continue the advisory, expand/contract affected areas, upgrade to a warning, or cancel the advisory.

What is a Tsunami Warning?

A tsunami warning is issued by PTWC when a potential tsunami with significant widespread inundation is imminent or expected. Warnings alert the public that widespread, dangerous coastal flooding accompanied by powerful currents is possible and may continue for several hours after arrival of the initial wave. Warnings also alert emergency management officials to take action for the entire tsunami hazard zone. Appropriate actions to be taken by local officials may include the evacuation of low-lying coastal areas, and the repositioning of ships to deep waters when there is time to safely do so. Warnings may be updated, adjusted geographically, downgraded, or canceled. To provide the earliest possible alert, initial warnings are normally based only on seismic information.

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