Hawaii under tsunami watch following 8.3 quake in Chile

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The state of Hawaii is now under a tsunami watch, following a magnitude 8.3 earthquake near the coast of central Chile shortly before 1 p.m. Wednesday.

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The state of Hawaii is now under a tsunami watch, following a magnitude 8.3 earthquake near the coast of central Chile shortly before 1 p.m. Wednesday.

“Based on all available data a tsunami may have been generated by this earthquake that could be destructive on coastal areas even far from the epicenter,” reads a bulletin issued at 1:24 p.m. by the National Weather Service’s Pacific Tsunami Warning Center at Ewa Beach. “An investigation is underway to determine if there is a tsunami threat to Hawaii.”

The earliest possible arrival of the first tsunami wave could be at 3:06 a.m. on Thursday morning, the bulletin reads.

“Further messages will be issued hourly or sooner as conditions warrant until the threat to Hawaii has passed,” the release states.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center should have a better idea about whether a tsunami was generated around 3:20 p.m., said Darryl Oliveira, Hawaii County Civil Defense administrator.

“Right now we are in a watch status, waiting to get on a conference call with … officials to discuss when would be the first opportunity to have confirmed data about a tsunami,” he said. “They watch the energy movement and wave generation as it hits some of the ocean buoys off the coast of South America. Looking at a map here, and based on some rough estimates, we’re looking at about a two-hour delay between the earthquake and the first buoy off the coast.”

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In the meantime, he said, tsunami watch protocols had been activated for the Big Island.

Email Colin M. Stewart at cstewart@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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