2009 Huge Tsunami in Sāmoa Generates a Small Tsunami in Hawaiʻi

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Samoan communities devastated by this tsunami.

Here on the Big Island, a Tsunami Watch was issued immediately after the earthquake. Once scientists had determined that Hawaiʻi would not be hit by a large tsunami, the Watch was cancelled. In anticipation of large wave surges, however, Civil Defense wisely closed all beach parks on the island, and County workers efficiently coned off the beach areas.

By mid-afternoon, wave surges began to arrive. In Kona, Captain Kurt Bell of the Fair Wind was at the Keauhou Boat Harbor, and shot a sequence of amazing photos as the surge rushed in over the cement dock.

Wave watchersLocal residents enjoy a view of the waves approaching the harbor.

WashAs the waves cover the dock, a fisherman is amazed to find himself knee-deep in water.

Parking lotThe parking lot floods. Always remain far inland during a tsunami watch or warning. Even if a tsunami is non-destructive, surge can be dangerous.

LeavingThe fisherman realizes he should move to higher ground, so he drives uphill, passing a tourist who is heading for his rental car.

DockThe water retreats from the concrete dock.

PierNote the wooden pier by the concrete dock.

DryNote the zodiac in the far left, floating in shallow water as the water retreats.

ZodiacAs the surge of water returns, the zodiac is lifted high, and the wooden pier is underwater.

Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense Active Alerts

Visit the Civil Defense website for up-to-date information.