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Tsunami Slams Chile After Deadly Magnitude-8.3 Earthquake; Pacific Tsunami Advisories

By The Weather Channel — last modified Sep 17, 2015 01:15 PM
Tsunami advisories are in effect for Hawaii and Southern California after a powerful magnitude-8.3 earthquake struck the Pacific Ocean waters just off the coast of Chile Wednesday evening, generating a dangerous 15-foot tsunami along parts of the Chilean coast. The tsunami is expected to fan out across much of the Pacific Ocean, though the worst of its power is expected to be focused westward toward French Polynesia, including Tahiti.

Published: 2015-09-16 23:00:00
Countries: American Samoa , Chile , French Polynesia , Hawaii , USA

Tsunami advisories are in effect for Hawaii and Southern California after a powerful magnitude-8.3 earthquake struck the Pacific Ocean waters just off the coast of Chile Wednesday evening, generating a dangerous 15-foot tsunami along parts of the Chilean coast. Chilean authorities said at least eight people died as a result of earthquake-related incidents.

The tsunami is expected to fan out across much of the Pacific Ocean, though the worst of its power is expected to be focused westward toward French Polynesia, including Tahiti.

Initial tsunami wave heights up to 1.1 feet were recorded in the French Polynesian Island of Rikitea, about 3,900 miles west of Lima, Peru in the South Pacific Ocean early Thursday morning, U.S. time. Nuku Hiva, another French Polynesian island about 1,000 miles north-northwest of Rikitea, measured a 2.5-foot tsunami wave height.

In the U.S., the PTWC has issued a tsunami advisory for Hawaii. The bulletin said a major tsunami is not expected, but "sea level changes and strong currents" may endanger swimmers and boaters Thursday. Local officials have urged people to stay off the beach and out of the water.

The two U.S. government agencies responsible for tsunami forecasting say tsunami waves of 1 to 3 feet may reach Hawaii early Thursday morning, first arriving around 3:11 a.m. HST (9:11 a.m. EDT). Here are some forecasted arrival times of the first tsunami wave in Hawaii. Keep in mind there are multiple tsunami waves that could last for several hours after the first wave, and that the first wave may not be the largest:

  • Hilo:  3:11 a.m.
  • Kailua-Kona: 3:19 a.m.
  • Kahului, Maui: 3:26 a.m.
  • Honolulu: 3:41 a.m.
  • Nawiliwili, Kauai: 3:46 a.m.

The U.S. government's National Tsunami Warning Center also issued a tsunami advisory for southern California, including coastal areas of the counties of San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego. NTWC said tsunami waves of less than 1 foot above normal tide levels can be expected.

Such waves are not a danger to those on land, but they can create unusual and dangerous currents posing a danger to swimmers and boaters. People along the coast of southern California are advised to avoid the water until the tsunami threat subsides.

NTWC projects the first of the small tsunami waves to reach Newport Beach, California, at 4:46 a.m. PDT, Los Angeles Harbor at 4:47 a.m. PDT and Santa Barbara at 5:06 a.m. PDT.

The L.A. County Office of Emergency Management advised fishermen, beachgoers and visitors to stay off beaches, harbor areas and jetties until the advisory is lifted. No evacuations were ordered for L.A. County coastal areas.

Tsunami advisories were also posted for American Samoa, with the first wave expected to reach Pago Pago around 1:26 a.m. SST (8:26 a.m. EDT). Similar to Hawaii, wave heights of 3 feet or less were expected, there.

The gauge in Coquimbo, Chile, recorded three tsunami waves of at least 4 meters (13 feet) each, including a maximum tsunami wave height 15.1 feet above normal tide levels. Several other Chilean coastal cities have recorded tsunami waves as well, though none nearly as dramatic as those in Coquimbo.

Read the remainder of this article at http://www.weather.com/news/news/chile-major-earthquake-tsunami-warning

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