Tsunami watch canceled; West Hawaii beaches to close at 2 p.m.

UPDATE 1 p.m. March 4, 2021: The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has canceled the tsunami watch for the state of Hawaii, which was issued after an 8.1-magnitude earthquake occurred at 9:28 a.m. Hawaii time north of of New Zealand.

Gov. David Ige and Hawaii Emergency Management Agency worked closely with the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and the National Weather Service to evaluate the potential threat to Hawaii, according to a news announcement from the governor’s office.

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As a precaution, beaches and beach parks in West Hawaii, from Keokea Beach Park in North Kohala to Hookena Beach Park in South Kona will close at 2 p.m. today, Hawaii County Civil Defense said.

While there is no tsunami threat, Civil Defense said strong currents and rip tides may affect coastal waters and beaches this afternoon.

UPDATE 11:27 a.m. March 4, 2021: The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Ewa Beach, Oahu, confirms tsunami waves have been observed from what the center now says is an 8.1-magnitude earthquake north of New Zealand.

The earthquake struck in the ocean off New Zealand’s coast, prompting thousands of people to evacuate and triggering tsunami warnings across the South Pacific. A tsunami watch was issued for the entire state of Hawai.

The quake was the largest in a series of tremors that struck the region over several hours, including two earlier quakes that registered magnitude 7.4 and magnitude 7.3.

While the quakes triggered warning systems and caused traffic jams and some chaos in New Zealand as people scrambled to get to higher ground, they did not appear to pose a widespread threat to lives or major infrastructure.

That’s because of the remoteness of where they hit. The largest struck about 620 miles off the coast of New Zealand.

One of the earlier quakes hit much closer to New Zealand and awoke many people during the night as they felt a long, rumbling shaking.

“Hope everyone is ok out there,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wrote on Facebook.

After the largest quake, civil defense authorities in New Zealand told people in certain areas on the East Coast of the North Island that they should move immediately to higher ground and not stay in their homes. They said a damaging tsunami was possible.

PREVIOUSLY: The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has issued a tsunami watch for the entire state of Hawaii, county Civil Defense reports.

An 8.0-magnitude earthquake occurred at 9:28 a.m. Hawaii time north of of New Zealand

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It is not yet known if a tsunami has been generated.

If a tsunami has been generated, the estimated time of arrival is today at 4:35 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time.

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