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7.9M quake in Tonga may affect coastal areas in Hawaii this afternoon


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A 7.9-magnitude earthquake struck off the Tonga islands region, seismologists said Friday, which might affect Hawaii’s shorelines later in the afternoon.

A tsunami warning initially was issued for the surrounding area, but has been cancelled. A tsunami adivsory for Hawaii also was rescinded. 

The quake, which hit at 8:17 a.m. Hawaii time, was centred 130 miles south-southeast of the Tongan capital Nuku’alofa and 300 miles east-southeast of Ndoi Island, Fiji.

It struck at a depth of 21 miles, the USGS said.

A tsunami warning initially was issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center for Tonga, Niue, Kermadec Islands, American Samoa, Samoa and Fiji.

“An earthquake of this size has the potential to generate a destructive tsunami that can strike coastlines in the region near the epicentre within minutes to hours,” it said.

There were no reports of damage or of sea levels rising in Fiji or Tonga, and the tsunami warning was later canceled for Tonga, Niue, Kermadec Island, American Samoa, Samoa, Wallis-Futuna and Fiji.

However, localized waves could still cause damage.

“No tsunami threat exists for other coastal areas in the Pacific, although some other areas may experience small sea level changes,” it said in a statement on its Website.

The center said the tsunami might be felt as far away as Hawaii but was not expected to cause any damage. 

No tsunami warning was issued for Australia’s coastline, and the New Zealand Press Association reported that a tsunami warning for the country had been canceled.

“There has been no damage or seas rising,” said a journalist at Fiji’s radio FM96. “Children have been told to return home from school and parents and are now collecting their children.”

The undersea quake off Tonga occurred near fault lines in the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where continental plates in the earth’s crust meet and earthquakes and volcanic activity are common.

An undersea volcanic eruption off Tonga earlier this week, thought caused by a strong sharp tremor, sent plumes of white and grey smoke towering into the sky

During the past three weeks sharp tremors have been felt in Nuku’alofa. The last, on March 13, was the longest, about four seconds, said online news site Matangi Tonga (www.matangitonga.to )

The quake occurred near fault lines in the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where continental plates in the earth’s crust meet and earthquakes and volcanic activity are common.

— Find out more:

USGS: earthquake.usgs.gov/
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TSUNAMI MESSAGE NUMBER 3
NWS PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER EWA BEACH HI
1009 AM HST THU MAR 19 2009

TO – CIVIL DEFENSE IN THE STATE OF HAWAII

SUBJECT – FINAL TSUNAMI ADVISORY

THE TSUNAMI ADVISORY IS ENDED FOR THE STATE OF HAWAII EFFECTIVE AT 10:09 AM HST.

AN EARTHQUAKE HAS OCCURRED WITH THESE PRELIMINARY PARAMETERS

ORIGIN TIME – 0818 AM HST 19 MAR 2009
COORDINATES – 23.0 SOUTH 174.8 WEST
LOCATION – TONGA ISLANDS REGION
MAGNITUDE – 7.7 MOMENT

MEASUREMENTS OR REPORTS OF TSUNAMI WAVE ACTIVITY

GAUGE LOCATION LAT LON TIME AMPL PER
——————- —– —— —– ————— —–
NIUE 19.1S 169.9W 1911Z 0.04M / 0.1FT 06MIN

LAT – LATITUDE (N-NORTH, S-SOUTH)
LON – LONGITUDE (E-EAST, W-WEST)
TIME – TIME OF THE MEASUREMENT (Z IS UTC IS GREENWICH TIME)
AMPL – TSUNAMI AMPLITUDE MEASURED RELATIVE TO NORMAL SEA LEVEL.
IT IS …NOT… CREST-TO-TROUGH WAVE HEIGHT.
VALUES ARE GIVEN IN BOTH METERS(M) AND FEET(FT).
PER – PERIOD OF TIME IN MINUTES(MIN) FROM ONE WAVE TO THE NEXT.

EVALUATION

THE PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER HAS CANCELLED THE REGIONAL TSUNAMI WARNING IT ISSUED FOR ANOTHER PART OF THE PACIFIC. BASED ON ALL AVAILABLE DATA THERE IS NO DESTRUCTIVE TSUNAMI THREAT TO HAWAII AND THE ADVISORY FOR HAWAII IS ALSO CANCELLED.

HOWEVER… SOME COASTAL AREAS IN HAWAII COULD EXPERIENCE SMALL NON-DESTRUCTIVE SEA LEVEL CHANGES AND STRONG OR UNUSUAL CURRENTS LASTING UP TO SEVERAL HOURS. THE ESTIMATED TIME SUCH EFFECTS MIGHT BEGIN IS 2:36 PM HST THU 19 MAR 2009

THIS WILL BE THE FINAL MESSAGE ISSUED FOR THIS EVENT UNLESS ADDITIONAL DATA ARE RECEIVED.

MESSAGES WILL BE ISSUED HOURLY OR SOONER AS CONDITIONS WARRANT.
——————————————–
Examples of ocean surges in the past

A composite photo showing sea level changes at Kamakahonu Bay, in Kailua-Kona, following an earthquake in Japan on November 15, 2006. Baron Sekiya/Hawaii247.com

A composite photo showing sea level changes at Kamakahonu Bay, in Kailua-Kona, following an earthquake in Japan on November 15, 2006. Baron Sekiya/Hawaii247.com

Surge into Kamakahonu Bay on November 15, 2006. Video by Baron Sekiya/Hawaii247.com

The ocean surges out and into Kawaihae Harbor due to the Jan. 13, 2007 Japan earthquake. Click to view bigger image. Photo by Baron Sekiya/Hawaii247.com

The ocean surges out and into Kawaihae Harbor due to the Jan. 13, 2007 Japan earthquake. Click to view bigger image. Photo by Baron Sekiya/Hawaii247.com

Jan. 13, 2007 Japan earthquake surge into Kawaihae Harbor. Video by Baron Sekiya/Hawaii247.com

One Response to “7.9M quake in Tonga may affect coastal areas in Hawaii this afternoon”

  1. Da Mayor says:

    West Hawaii Today’s web site has no mention of this tsunami advisory – an important announcement that needs to get to the people ASAP.

    Finally, Hawaii has an online, real-time source for emergency news.

    Mahalo, Hawaii 24/7!

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