The tsunami warning for Hawaii, issued is the wake of a powerful earthquake off the Canadian coast, has been cancelled.
A tsunami warning was issued due to fears that that the quake could send massive waves at the islands, and early predictions suggested the possibility of significant damage. Reuters reports that tens of thousands of residents and tourists fled inland after tsunami sirens blared on Saturday night. Some reports suggested the island of Maui could face waves as high as six feet.
After smaller than expected waves, the tsunami warning was downgraded to an advisory. Reuters reported the highest measured wave was 2.5 feet, but the Associated Press reported the waves at five feet. Neither agency reported any significant damage, injuries, or flooding.
“We’re very, very grateful that we can go home tonight counting our blessings,” Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie said.
The 7.7 magnitude earthquake that hit off Canada’s Pacific coastal province of British Columbia late on Saturday also led to a tsunami warning for more than 450 miles of the US Pacific coast. The last time Hawaii had a tsunami warning came in March of 2011 after the disastrous Japanese tsunami.
Though most of the evacuated seemed to take a better-safe-than-sorry approach, scientists said they overestimated the wave sizes in because ocean sensors had a bad angle on the tsunami. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center will review the event.
“We have to see what worked and what didn’t work … and find ways to reduce unnecessary evacuations and still not miss anything,” Dr.Gerard Fryer said.
On Hawaii’s most populous island, Oahu, all beaches had been reopened.