Hawaii At Risk For Devastating Tsunami As Mega-Earthquake Predicted In Aleutians

Researchers suggest that Hawaii is due for a devastating tsunami that could cause over $40 billion in damages. The prediction comes as studies suggest that the Aleutian Islands are overdue for an earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0 or higher. The mega-earthquake would cause a devastating tsunami to potentially sweep across Hawaii causing mass destruction. So how likely is it that Hawaii will be directly hit by a mega-tsunami in the next 50 years?

Hawaii News Now reports that Hawaii has a 9 percent chance of being devastated by a mega-tsunami within the next 50 years. The prediction was detailed by researchers with the University of Hawaii at Manoa. The group spent five years studying Aleutian Islands earthquakes and tsunamis to extrapolate the likelihood of a mega-tsunami devastating Hawaii.

The lead researcher on the project, geophysicist Rhett Butler, says that though mega-tsunami events are rare, there is a chance that one may soon cause destruction in Hawaii. Therefore, Butler and his team set out to determine exactly how likely it is for a devastating tsunami to hit Hawaii within the next 50 years. They note that the increased tsunami risk is associated with an overdue mega-earthquake that could hit the Aleutian Islands anytime.

The researchers point out that Hawaii could suffer from a tsunami from earthquakes in other areas; however, an Aleutian Islands earthquake is most concerning as it is in close proximity to Hawaii and would give very little time for evacuations.

“[The Aleutian Islands earthquake] is the one that’s more important because it’s very close, so we have very little time to evacuate.”

The threat of a tsunami triggered by a mega-earthquake at the Aleutians would give residents in Hawaii just four hours to evacuate and make their way to higher ground before the massive tsunami sweeps across the region. With such a small window of time for evacuations, the researchers note that the study was conducted to remind residents and visitors to Hawaii that the threat does exist.

While the researchers say they don’t want to spark fear or panic, they hope that the research will encourage people to create a tsunami evacuation plan and prepare for the potential tsunami event. So what should you do if you find yourself in Hawaii and a tsunami warning is issued?

The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency suggests planning ahead by creating an emergency preparedness kit. The agency suggests keeping seven days worth of nonperishable food and water in a rolling cooler or case. If you take medications regularly, a week’s worth of meds should also be included in the kit along with a small medical kit and battery-operated radio. The agency outlines a variety of shelf-stable foods that could be included in the kit such as peanut butter, nuts, ready-to-eat cereals, and canned soups. To complete the kit, sanitary items such as toilet paper, sanitizer, and cleaning wipes are suggested.

Once the tsunami warning is given, residents should follow tsunami evacuation routes to higher ground and be sure to take along their emergency preparedness kit. Evacuation routes are posted with signage throughout Hawaii and can also be found at the official Hawaii Emergency Management website. If you are caught off guard by a tsunami and cannot relocate to higher ground, the agency recommends finding the nearest concrete building with six stories or more and moving to the third story or higher.

Following the tsunami, never return home until emergency crews have deemed it safe. Tsunamis typically come in multiple waves and you should wait for an all-clear before returning to lower ground.

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