The tsunami siren sounded off around 6 a.m. Saturday morning, an eerie start to the day for residents in the Hilo area of the Big Island.
The Tsunami Advisory issued last night after an 8.8 earthquake shook Chile, the same region of the world that generated the destructive 1960 tsunami that devastated Hilo, has now become a Tsunami Warning.
The first wave is estimated to arrive at 11:00 AM Hawaii Time, according to Civil Defense. Low coastal areas and tsunami zones are at risk, and civil defense is issuing an evacuation.
Civil Defense says evacuations must be complete by 10:00 AM.
Civil Defense says wave heights cannot be predicted and the waves can last for hours.
The Hilo Airport is closing because of the tsunami threat.
From the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center:
A TSUNAMI HAS BEEN GENERATED THAT COULD CAUSE DAMAGE ALONG
COASTLINES OF ALL ISLANDS IN THE STATE OF HAWAII. URGENT ACTION
SHOULD BE TAKEN TO PROTECT LIVES AND PROPERTY.
A TSUNAMI IS A SERIES OF LONG OCEAN WAVES. EACH INDIVIDUAL WAVE
CREST CAN LAST 5 TO 15 MINUTES OR MORE AND EXTENSIVELY FLOOD
COASTAL AREAS. THE DANGER CAN CONTINUE FOR MANY HOURS AFTER THE
INITIAL WAVE AS SUBSEQUENT WAVES ARRIVE. TSUNAMI WAVE HEIGHTS
CANNOT BE PREDICTED AND THE FIRST WAVE MAY NOT BE THE LARGEST.
TSUNAMI WAVES EFFICIENTLY WRAP AROUND ISLANDS. ALL SHORES ARE AT
RISK NO MATTER WHICH DIRECTION THEY FACE. THE TROUGH OF A TSUNAMI
WAVE MAY TEMPORARILY EXPOSE THE SEAFLOOR BUT THE AREA WILL
QUICKLY FLOOD AGAIN. EXTREMELY STRONG AND UNUSUAL NEARSHORE
CURRENTS CAN ACCOMPANY A TSUNAMI. DEBRIS PICKED UP AND CARRIED
BY A TSUNAMI AMPLIFIES ITS DESTRUCTIVE POWER. SIMULTANEOUS HIGH
TIDES OR HIGH SURF CAN SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASE THE TSUNAMI HAZARD.
THE ESTIMATED ARRIVAL TIME IN HAWAII OF THE FIRST TSUNAMI WAVE IS
1119 AM HST SAT 27 FEB 2010
MESSAGES WILL BE ISSUED HOURLY OR SOONER AS CONDITIONS WARRANT.