A Tsunami Watch has been issued for the Hawaiian Islands as a result of a 7.9 magnitude earthquake that took place near Sulangan, Philippines a short while ago.
According to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, "a Tsunami may have been generated by this earthquake that could be destructive on coastal areas even far from the epicenter".
The bulletin goes on to say "if tsunami waves impact Hawaii the estimated earliest arrival of the first tsunami wave is 12:28 PM HST Friday". That would be around 5:28 PM CDT today.
The location of the earthquake is noted by the yellow star on the above map, and I've noted the location of the Hawaiian Islands which are located in the upper right hand corner of the same map.
Folks in Hawaii take tsunamis very seriously, much like we do for tornadoes here in the lower 48 states. According to information provided by the Pacific Disaster Center, tsunamis have accounted for more lost lives in Hawaii than "the total of all other local disasters". Most of the deaths, 221 during the 20th Century, took place on the Big Island during the tsunamis of 1946 and 1960. Both of those tsunamis were very large and caused widespread damage, but were triggered by earthquakes that took place much closer to the islands than the one this morning.
The most recent significant tsunami to strike Hawaii did so on November 29, 1975. It was caused by an earthquake that took place just offshore of the Big Island. Waves were reportedly as much as 26 feet high with the associated tsunami.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has promised hourly or more frequent updates as needed today, and we'll pass along any significant information that may come forward.
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