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Tsunami Updates from 8.8 Chilean Earthquake on February 27, 2010

This topic is designed to allow people to share their first hand accounts of any tsunami experiences

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Tsunami Updates from Hanalei Bay in Princeville Kauai

  • Feb 27, 2010
  • by
I'm using this review to document my observations and thoughts while awaiting the potential tsunami that may hit this area at 11:20 local time.

First, let me begin by saying that i have always been very interested in natural disasters.  While in college my two favorite classes were "Geology - Earthquakes" and "Geology - Natural Disasters"  Things like this that have shaped this planet are so fascinating and are such a reminder that we are only tenants on this planet.  We are so small.  Experiencing this first hand, i feel obligated to share these thoughts.  I hope at the end of this, we look back and this is very underwhelming.

Updates are in local time.

February 26th

10pm - landed in Kauai

11pm - arrived at hotel in Princeville and got text message from my brother about huge earthquake in Chile.  First thing we were worried about it our mom's trip to Chile to catch a cruise ship in Santiago on February 27th.  Crazy timing that she is going down there right now with all this going on. started looking on twitter for updates.

11:30pm - continued twitter searching.  Found an early model of a map that showed potential arrival time of tsunami to Hawaii in 12-15 hours.  Watched CNN.  Most of the coverage was about earthquake damage.  Not much coming in yet because it was still night.  Coverage started shifting more toward potential tsunami damage.  Doing the math i figured it wouldn't hit here until mid day tomorrow. 

February 27th

1:30AM - tried to get some sleep, but obvious anxiety.

6:00AM - woke up turned on CNN.  Full coverage of potential tsunami hitting throughout the pacific.  Panic feel from the newscasters.  Doesn't give much ease.  Sun isn't up yet so i still don't even know how close our room is to the water.  News coverage is talking about potential Hawaii tsunami.

6:30AM - trying to figure out what we are going to do.  thoughts of driving to a good vantage point on Kauai or even renting a helicopter and going to view/document this from other islands.  A younger JR may have tried that, but i opted to just chill here and be safe.  Then a slow, low flying plane buzzed the coast with a warning siren blaring.  This would get your attention... and at least you would ask someone what was going on.

7:00AM - sun coming up and able to see water.  we have a great view from our room of the bay.  Hotel has evacuated floors 1-7 (we are luckily on 9th floor) and they are shutting down the power on floors 1-7 for safety reasons.  Everyone is asked to wait in the lobby.  Good thing the lobby here at the St Regis is beautiful with panoramic views.  I saw 2 surfers paddle out.

8:00am - pic from room. calm before the storm?

8:30AM - went to lobby.  very calm.  like no one cares.  everyone is just chilling and having breakfast like a normal morning.  Only thing that is different is the Tsunami Siren going off ever half hour.  But it's not overwhelming because it's down on the beach and we are up on the bluff... but you can definitely hear it!

9:30 am - back in room and just waiting.  weird.  just sitting here knowing that a wave traveling at 500mph is coming our way and no idea what it will look like. pic from room... beautiful day so far.

10:45AM - all surfers and stand up paddle boarders are out of the water.  people are starting to gather around the bluff here to watch this.  we are about 15 mins from the big island seeing the first signs of this tsunami.  i'm getting really anxious... news coverage is escalating too.  some of these newscasters are idiots.  it's still VERY calm and beautiful here.

11:30 AM - nothing yet.  watching the TV coverage to see if Hilo is seeing anything yet.  Hilo will get hit first.  there is some confusion amoung the newscasters right now if some tidal shifts are just that or if that is the tsunami.  if so, that would be great because no damage then.  stay tuned. nothing happened here yet.

11:50AM - very calm.  nothing yet here or in Hilo.  looks sooooooo nice out.  i want to go jump in the water!!!  i've been trying to watch the reef to see i can notice any changes in the tide level, and i've seen some small changes, but very subtle.  the tide is coming in, and i've noticed some drops in the tide over the last 45 mins...but again.  nothing substantial.

1:00PM - nothing happening but still can't leave hotel.  Heading to the bar for a change of scenery.  Looks like we dodged a bullet!

1:50PM - Tsunami warning canceled.  All clear.  We made it through unscathed.  Surfers and SUPs back out in the water... i'm heading down to start this vacation!!!

4:30 PM - we are still seeing a tidal surge in Hanalei Bay.  I wasn't sure if what i was witnessing was an actual tsunami related surge, but after talking to a few locals, i'm sure... the strange tides that we've been witnessing all afternoon are still related to the tsunami.  Luckily, it is VERY mild, but it still made me a little concerned that they called off the warning and just opened the beaches again.  In the picture below, here's what happened.  Minutes before i took this pic, the water was up where my flip flop is stuck in the sand.  You can see see Susan collecting shells about 20 feet away and probably 1.5-2 ft below where the water was just minutes earlier. 

5:15 PM - back in the hotel room but still watching the water.  Notice these next two pictures.  they clearly show a tidal surge still taking place 6 hours past the forecasted arrival of the tsunami.  Considering that we were on the back side of the island on the furtherest Hawiian island from the epicenter of the quake, i think we can conclude that such a large scale earthquake like this can still create large tidal changes for long after the initial impact is forecasted.  This was such a small tsunami, but we still saw so much tidal activity for hours after the warning was called off.

5:17 PM - notice only 2 minutes later the reef is completely covered.  The tide is actually going out when we got this surge.  I'm esitmating the surge was about 1 foot, but hard to tell from my vantage point.

This type of surging decreased, but continued until the sunset a couple hours later.

Just to give some perspective of how far i am, i took this photo the next day.  If you look closely you can see man with his two children down on the reef.  Very small but in the center of the picture, just a little bit to the left. 
Sunrise 7am over Hanalei Bay February 27 2010 8:30 am over Hanalei Bay February 27 2010 9:30 am over Hanalei Bay February 27 2010 10:50 am over Hanalei Bay February 27 2010 11:50 am over Hanalei Bay February 27 2010 Tsunami Updates from Hanalei Bay in Princeville Kauai 5:15 pm tsunami low surge 5:17 pm tsunami tide surge Tsunami Updates from Hanalei Bay in Princeville Kauai

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February 28, 2010
stay safe, J.R. I hope you stay well in your stay there. Do get to a good vantage point. ...this is definitely NOT fun to read but a lot worrisome.
February 28, 2010
i find it all very interesting but alos very scary. thanks for the play by play. stay safe!
February 28, 2010
Ok, I missed all the action while sleeping! Good to hear you're all fine out there! Happy holidays, JR! & do send my regards to Stephanie!
February 28, 2010
I agree with DalyDose, so NOT 'Fun to Read' but incredibly 'Helpful' and 'Well Organized.' Way to keep it exciting J.R. As if we needed any more excitement. ;) Stay safe out there!
February 27, 2010
Hope all the waves remains under 2ft. Greetings from Mazatlán, México. A Big Fan of Kauai Island and the Cliffs of Princevile
February 27, 2010
I can't say this is "fun to read" so I left that blank.  In my mind, you have transformed from a Internet entrepreneur to an on the scene journalist.

I truly hope that CNN doesn't get their lead story that they seem to be preparing for.  That will mean that all is well for the citizens and visitors of Hawaii.  Stay safe, my friend.
February 27, 2010
thanks Jeff. It's strange situation. i'm stuck here in the hotel with nothing else to do. I've even tried setting up a live stream, but i can't get camera show the water due to bad lighting. I do feel like an "on the scene" journalist. Remember the old Al Franken character on SNL when he did the mobile broadcasts with the satellite helmet? I'm getting close to that guy.
February 27, 2010
Intense. I lived in Hawaii for four years and actually recall one minor Tsunami while I was there. I lived on Oahu and never really saw any action. The waves on the North Shore around Memorial Day were always much bigger. Hopefully Hawaii will dodge yet another bullet and feel very little effect!
February 27, 2010
Great play by play.  Makes me nervous.  Exciting in a morbid/weird kind of way.  Very interesting that you've got an oceanview seat for this.  Keep posting.
February 27, 2010
thanks man. it's such a weird vibe here. i hope there isn't anything substantial to report... but i will.
February 27, 2010
Thanks for the update. Good luck and be safe over there.
February 27, 2010
knowing my nocturnal brother, who lives in Honolulu, he was probably seriously ticked off when he woke to sirens at 6AM. I hope you all get just enough crazy wave action that it's exciting, but not enough that anyone is injured or there's much damage.
1 2 Next
More Tsunami Updates from 8.8 Chile... reviews
Quick Tip by . February 28, 2010
JR turns iReporter in Kauai! Exciting, eerie or weird? Read his updates in his review! Keep safe, JR!
Quick Tip by . February 28, 2010
natural disasters r such a perspective check n reminder of our lack of control and place in this world. very glad it didn't wind up too bad
Quick Tip by . February 27, 2010
Very erie here in MB. Watching Tsunami coverage. Went from sunny to cold wind and rain in a few minutes. Ominous.
Quick Tip by . February 27, 2010
Tsunami warning canceled. All clear. We made it through unscathed. Surfers and SUPs back out in the water... i'm starting this vacation!
About the reviewer
J.R. Johnson ()
Ranked #31
If you're looking for some more company related stuff about me... it's on my bio page here.      Also, here's a family surf video from our recent wedding. Family = good … more
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About this topic


In the wake of the 8.8 earthquake that hit Chile on February 27, 2010, tsunami warnings was issued throughout the Pacific Ocean.

A tsunami warning was first declared for Chile and Peru,  and a tsunami watch for Ecuador, Colombia, Antarctica, Panama  and Costa Rica.  The warning was later extended to a Pacific Ocean-wide warning, covering all coastal areas on the Pacific Ocean except the west coast of the United States, British Columbia, and Alaska.  Hawaiian media reported that tsunami warning sirens sounded at 6 am local time.  The U.S. Tsunami Warning Center issued advisories about potential tidal waves of less than 1 m (3 ft 3 in) striking the Pacific Ocean coastline between California and most of Alaska late in the afternoon or through the evening 12 or more hours after the initial earthquake.

The tsunami warning was cancelled for all countries except Japan and Russia in PTWC Bulletin 18 of 00:12 UTC on 28 February 2010.

In general, tsunamis tend to come in several waves, of which the first may not be the highest.

A tsunami amplitude of up to 2.6 m (8 ft 6 in) high was recorded in the sea at Valparaíso, Chile. A wave amplitude of 2.34 m (7.68 ft) was recorded at Talcahuano in the Biobío Region. Some sources claim that a massive 40 m (130 ft) tsunami struck the Juan Fernández Islands, located 667 km (414 mi) off the coast of Chile, resulting in catastrophic damage. However, this claim is not yet supported by officially ...
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