Chile quake and tsunami alert

As news accounts continue to report, Chile was struck by a severe earthquake (magnitude 8.8 with continuing aftershocks) early Saturday morning.

Damage and casualties are still being assessed, but appear to be significant.

The main story is what happened in Chile, but after any major earthquake event in the Pacific rim my first thoughts are “Has a tsunami been generated?”

The answer is yes, and this is actually something you can follow in real time.

Why do I care? Because I’m from Hawaii and still have family who live in inundation zones. So I spent much of this morning following news updates and trying to wake my Mom by phone. (Which did not work. One of my brothers had to go wake her up and help her evacuate to higher ground.)

Civil defense sirens went off at 6 am local time and the state is busy getting ready for wave surges that are expected to arrive around 11 am HST (4 pm EST).

The good news is Hawaii has been through this before. Monitoring and warning systems are in place. The areas that could be damaged are found in maps in every phone book…as long as people go inland they should be perfectly safe.

If you have family or friends living in or visiting Hawaii, they should be just fine (let me say it again!) as long as they follow instructions and move to higher ground or to upper floors in hotels.

It’s not possible to predict wave size or potential for damage and there may be more than one ‘wave’ too, so caution is the way to go.

Major tsunami events in 1960 and 1946 did produce fatalities and destruction, particularly in the harbor town of Hilo, on the Big Island. You can’t know when, but another big one will smack the islands, sooner or later.

Anyway…if you want to keep tabs on this try the
NOAA’s Pacific Tsunami Warning Center or watch live streaming from a local TV station here.

Thoughts and prayer to the people of Chile. And good luck to everyone else across the Pacific now waiting to see what the ocean may bring.

Leave a Reply