HONOLULU (KHNL-KGMB-HawaiiNewsNow) – At 1:50 PM Saturday, scientists at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center canceled the tsunami warning after all of Hawaii had braced for the worst for a tense 13 hours. Governor Linda Lingle, speaking from the state Civil Defense headquarters at Diamond Head crater, announced that there were no reports of significant property damage or loss of life.
The tsunami waves began hitting the Hawaiian Islands exactly at the time that scientists predicted, though without the ferocity that may island residents feared. The first indications of the tsunami appeared at around 11:30 AM Saturday as the ocean began dramatically receding from Hilo Bay.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reported that the sea level rose almost three feet at Hilo, surging and receding numerous times at intervals of about 20 minutes. No injuries or property damage were reported at Hilo, on the eastern coast of the Big Island of Hawaii.
Much of the areas in Hilo's inundation zone are now parklands, the city having been devastated by deadly tsunamis in 1946 and 1960.
At Kawaihae Harbor, on the Kona side of Hawaii, the tsunami was measured at almost two feet high. On Maui, at the main harbor of Kahului, the ocean rose over three feet, the highest surge recorded in the islands.
On the island of Oahu, police shut down dozens of major thoroughfares. Many businesses and institutions closed down and most scheduled events were canceled. Thousands of people gathered on hilltops and mountainsides to watch for the waves to come in. Thousands of tourists were ‘vertically evacuated' to higher floors of high-rise hotels at Waikiki Beach.
Time-lapse video of water receding in Hilo
"Let's all be careful out there!"