Hawaii tsunami warning canceled after lower than expected waves

Sun Oct 28, 2012 6:12pm EDT
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By Jorene Barut and Suzanne Roig

HONOLULU (Reuters) - Hawaii state officials on Sunday canceled a tsunami advisory prompted by a powerful earthquake off the Canadian coast that sent thousands of people fleeing to higher ground, but did not cause major damage.

The advisory was canceled shortly before 4 a.m. local time (1400 GMT) after the anticipated waves rolled in lower than expected, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

Kevin Richards, earthquake and tsunami manager for Hawaii State Civil Defense, said water, gas and power lines were not damaged by the smaller-than-expected waves.

"Everything is normal," Richards said. "We're in good shape with this one."

Tens of thousands of people fled shoreline areas on Saturday night following siren blasts and a tsunami warning from the center that waves as tall as 6 feet could hit in some places.

Scientists downgraded the warning to an advisory shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday (1100 GMT) and there were no reports of injuries, serious flooding or damage.

The highest wave measured 2.5 feet, and that hit Kahului harbor on the island of Maui, said Dr. Gerard Fryer, senior geophysicist at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

All beaches were reopened on Oahu, the most populated island in Hawaii, on Sunday morning, Richards said. Beaches remained closed on the island of Hawaii, but were set to reopen shortly.   Continued...