Friday, March 11, 2011

Tsunami Information from

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Date: Fri. Mar. 11 2011 9:21 AM ET

Tsunami waves generated by a powerful earthquake are now hitting Hawaii, while parts of British Columbia remain under an advisory as the surge heads towards the Pacific coast of North America.

Kauai was the first island to be struck, with one-metre tsunami waves making landfall around 8:30 ET, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

One-metre high waves also hit parts of the island of Oahu. The waves swept ashore in Honolulu, swamping the empty beach in Waikiki and overwhelming the breakwall in the world-famous resort. However, the waves didn't reach the nearby high-rise hotels.

Officials warned that the waves would continue and could become larger.

Officials have warned Hawaii could experience waves up to two metres high.

Residents of at-risk coastal areas have been moved to evacuation centres and tourists have been moved to the higher floors of their hotels.

Long lines were reportedly forming at stores and gas stations as residents stocked up on gas, bottled water, canned food and generators.

"We're preparing for the worst and we're praying for the best," said John Cummings III, spokesman for the Honolulu Department of Emergency Management.

B.C. braces for tsunami

Residents in some areas of British Columbia are also bracing for the tsunami, and orders have been issued to evacuate marinas and beach areas.

B.C.'s north coast and the Haida Gwaii Islands were subject to the advisory, along with the Bella Bella and Shearwater areas and the coast of Vancouver Island from Cape Scott to Port Renfrew.

Other areas of the province are not at risk.

"At this time it is believed that a low level tsunami has been generated that could impact marinas and other coastal infrastructure or create strong currents in harbours and isolated coastal areas," said a statement from B.C.'s Provincial Emergency Program.

Local governments in the affected areas were advised to activate emergency plans and immediately evacuate marinas, beaches and low-lying areas.

Glen Plummer, of Emergency Management B.C., said only areas below the normal high tide mark are affected.

"The modelling we're receiving from the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Centre is indicating waves under one metre. What that means is people in those areas should stay away from, out of, and off of the water, and boats in those areas might get jostled around a bit," Plummer told CTV's Canada AM from Victoria, B.C.

Cindy Preller, from the NOAA West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center, said tsunami waves are much more powerful than non-tsunami waves of the same height.

"The most common tsunami arrives like a fast flood and it just doesn't stop, it keeps coming," Preller told Canada AM.

Pacific coast prepares for surge

Meanwhile, tsunami warnings or advisories were issued for much of the Pacific coast of North America from California to Alaska.

Northern California and parts of Oregon were under a tsunami warning, along with isolated island areas of western Alaska.

Residents in the warning areas who live near the beach or other low-lying areas were told to "move immediately inland to higher ground and away from all harbours and inlets including those sheltered directly from the sea," said a statement from the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center.

"Those feeling the earth shake, seeing unusual wave action, or the water level rising or receding may have only a few minutes before the tsunami arrival and should move immediately."

Other coastal regions of California, along with Washington, B.C. and Alaska were under a tsunami advisory.

In those areas, residents were warned to stay away from the water.

"A tsunami capable of producing strong currents or waves dangerous to persons in or very near the water is expected," said the statement.

However, significant, widespread inundation is not expected in the advisory areas, the warning center said.

A tsunami warning has also been issued for Hawaii, New Zealand, Mexico and Central and South America.

Following is a list of some expected tsunami arrival times along the North American West Coast (time zones as indicated):

Bella Bella, B.C.: 8:05 a.m. PST

Tofino, B.C.: 6:58 a.m. PST

The north tip of Vancouver Island, B.C.: 6:19 a.m. PST

The Washington-B.C. border: 7:04 a.m. PST

Seattle, Washington: 8:44 a.m. PST

The north tip of Vancouver Island, B.C.: 6:19 a.m. PST

Juneau, Alaska: 5:35 a.m. AKST

Santa Barbara, California: 8:17 a.m. PST

Charleston, Oregon: 7:15 a.m. PST

Anyone seeking information about Canadians in Japan is asked to call DFAIT at 613-943-1055, or toll free within Canada at 1-800-387-3124.

With files from The Associated Press

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