Hawaii tsunami smaller than expected; advisory cancelled
Published Sunday, October 28, 2012 7:08AM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, October 28, 2012 3:04PM EDT
HONOLULU -- Officials in Hawaii have cancelled a tsunami advisory for the state's coastline, paving the way for beaches and harbours to reopen after widespread fears of waves generated from a powerful earthquake off the coast of Canada.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center lifted its tsunami advisory early Sunday just before 4 a.m. local time, three hours after downgrading from a warning and less than six hours after the waves first hit the islands.
The biggest waves -- about 5 feet high -- appeared to hit Maui. A popular triathlon set for the island was expected to go on as planned, with an ocean swim.
There are no immediate reports of damage, though one person died in a fatal crash near a road that was closed because of the threat.
Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie said early Sunday that the Aloha State was lucky to avoid more severe surges after a powerful earthquake struck off the coast of Canada.
"We're very, very grateful that we can go home tonight counting our blessings," Abercrombie said.
Earlier, the National Weather Service cancelled tsunami advisories for Canada and Oregon, leaving northern California as the only spot in North America still under a tsunami advisory.
The first waves hitting Hawaii on Saturday night were smaller than expected.
Gerard Fryer, a geologist tracking the tsunami for the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, said the largest wave in the first 45 minutes of the tsunami was measured in Maui at more than 5 feet (1.5 metres), about 2 feet (60 centimetres) higher than normal sea levels.
No major damage was reported.
At first, officials said Hawaii wasn't in any danger of a tsunami after the 7.7-magnitude earthquake rattled the western coast of North America Saturday night, sparking tsunami warnings for southern Alaska and western Canada.
Later, officials issued a warning for Hawaii as well, saying there had been a change in sea readings. About the same time, a tsunami advisory was issued for a 450-mile (725-kilometre) stretch of U.S. coast running from north of San Francisco to central Oregon.
A small tsunami created by the quake was barely noticeable in Craig, Alaska, where the first wave or surge was recorded Saturday night.