NOAA 99-R214
Contact: Delores Clark


The National Weather Service joins Hawaii State Civil Defense, the Pacific Tsunami Museum, and others to announce a month of activities in Hawaii that are designed to remind the public about the potential risk of tsunamis. Similar programs are underway in Washington, Oregon and California.

"We are lucky that Hawaii hasn't had a major tsunami strike all the Islands since 1964," said Chip McCreery, director of the weather service's Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Ewa Beach. "But at the same time, because it was so long ago, we may have forgotten or may never have learned what are the right things to do to protect ourselves and our families."

Hawaii isn't the only state to be threatened by the great sea waves that are usually caused by underwater earthquakes and landslides. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, parent agency of the National Weather Service, is one of several federal and state agencies, including Hawaii State Civil Defense, that are involved in a national tsunami mitigation program.

"The states of Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California are also vulnerable to the threat of tsunamis," said Richard Hagemeyer, director of National Weather Service Pacific Region in Honolulu. "We are sharing Hawaii's experiences with experts in those states to produce inundation and evacuation maps and help educate the public. The National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program is receiving $2.3 million a year to conduct these programs, which include deploying deep ocean buoy monitors and expanding seismic warning networks."

Hagemeyer continued, "This Saturday marks the 35th anniversary of the Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964. The resulting tsunami, in which more than 100 people lost
their lives in Alaska, Oregon and California, was a wake-up call much like the April 1, 1946, tsunami was here in Hawaii. In 1948 the predecessor of the Pacific Tsunami

Warning Center was established. And in 1967, the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center was established in Palmer, Alaska, to warn the citizens of the West Coast and British Columbia. In both centers, geophysicists work around the clock monitoring earthquakes and disseminating information."

"We have systems in place now that allow us to provide the public adequate warning time—from a minimum of three hours to more than 14 hours—for a distant tsunami, such as those that occurred in 1946, 1952, 1957, 1960, and 1964," said McCreery. "However, if a tsunami is caused by a nearby earthquake as in 1975, there is very little time available. Our residents and visitors need to know if the ground shakes so violently that it is difficult to stand, and they are near the sea, they should get to high elevations or inland immediately, without waiting for an official warning. Use whatever means are readily available and practicable, whether that means walking, running, bicycling, driving, or even taking an elevator to a higher floor. A tsunami could strike within minutes or even less. Everyone located in a potential inundation zone—schools, work places, all public facilities and families—should have a tsunami evacuation plan and know what to do."

In Hawaii, several activities are planned to educate the public about tsunamis. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center will be open to schools and the public each Friday and Saturday in April. Presentations are planned at public libraries throughout the state, and tsunami information booths will be open at the Kapolei Spring Festival on April 17, and the Earth Day Fair at the University of Hawaii at Hilo on April 22. In addition, the Pacific Tsunami Museum and State Civil Defense are distributing tsunami education coloring books and lesson plans to public schools. The Museum has organized a commemorative program at Laupahoehoe School on April 1 in memory of the victims of the 1946 tsunami. Many other events are scheduled, including a new exhibit, Laupahoehoe, premiering at the Museum on April 24, and a statewide poster and essay contest.

A calendar of events follows.

Note to Editors: Additional information is available at the following websites:

National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program:

West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center:

International Tsunami Information Center:

Pacific Tsunami Museum:


Calendar of Events

Thursday, April 1, 1999
Laupahoehoe School and community will hold a commemorative program at Laupahoehoe Point in memory of the victims of the April 1, 1946, tsunami. The program will start at 9:00 a.m.

Survivors of the April 1 tsunami that devastated Keaukaha in Hilo will begin the day with a commemorative ceremony/service at 7:00 a.m. at the Seaside Restaurant in Keaukaha. They will spend the day together reminiscing and documenting their stories and will end the afternoon and evening with a gathering and dinner at the Hilo Yacht Club. Both Seaside and Yacht Club were devastated by the 1946 tsunami. (Info: 808/935-0926)

Dr. Dan Walker, tsunami advisor to the Oahu Civil Defense Agency, will speak at the Hauula Satellite City Hall Office in Laie. Topics to be discussed include tsunami awareness and the science of tsunamis. (Info: 808/527-5490)

Fridays and Saturdays in April 1999 (April 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, 34, 24)
Open house at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, 91-270 Ft. Weaver Road, Ewa Beach. Brief presentations and tours of the operations area will be featured starting at 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. Safety information will be provided. (Reservations and Info: 808/689-8207 x 300)

Saturday, April 10, 1999
The Waiakea High School Tsunami Oral History Project will host a Survivor Recognition Program at the Pacific Tsunami Museum at 2:00 p.m. 150 ninth graders have either individually or in groups interviewed a tsunami survivor and they will invite their interviewees, thank them, and share what the program has meant. (Info: 808/935-0926)

Oahu Civil Defense will sponsor a booth and provide tsunami awareness materials at the Lions Club Family Safety Day at Waianae Mall.
(Info: 808/527-5490)

Saturday, April 17, 1999
Borders Book Store in Hilo will dedicate a day to Tsunami Awareness and the programs for the Pacific Tsunami Museum. Speakers and displays will be featured. (Info: 808/935-0926)

Kapolei Spring Festival, 10:00 a.m. – 6 p.m., 91-1111 Kama'aha Loop, Kapolei. The National Weather Service/Pacific Tsunami Warning Center will sponsor an information booth. (Info: 808/674-4444)

Sunday, April 18, 1999
The Waiakea Pirates, an athletic club of 75 years, in conjunction with their reunion will hold a memorial to their members and all the victims of the 1960 tsunami that devastated the Waiakea area. They will hold a commemorative service at the clock at 9:00 a.m. followed by a brunch at the Pacific Tsunami Museum. (Info: 808/935-0926)

Thursday, April 22, 1999
11th Annual Earth Day Fair, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Upper Campus of Hawaii Community College and the University of Hawaii at Hilo. The National Weather Service/Pacific Tsunami Warning Center will host an exhibit booth. (Info: 808/974-7483)

Saturday, April 24, 1999
The first exhibit produced by the Pacific Tsunami Museum, entitled Laupahoehoe, will open with a blessing and program that will begin at 10:00 a.m. This official opening will be preceded with a photo op session for Laupahoehoe students and community members on April 16 and a private showing for the exhibit crew and the Pacific Tsunami Board members on the evening of April 23rd. (Info: 808/935-0926)

April 24 is the deadline for receipt of entries for the Tsunami Poster and Essay Contest sponsored by the Pacific Tsunami Museum. Details and entry information: 808/935-0926

Hawaii State Public Library System Lecture Series (final schedule will be available from Susan Nakata, 808/586-3620)

McCully Library: April 13, 2:30 p.m.; April 14, 2:30 p.m.
Waimanalo Library: Dates TBA
Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped: April 15, 10:00 a.m.
Kailua-Kona Library: Dates TBA
Laupahoehoe Library: Dates TBA
Pahala Library: Dates TBA
Pahoa Library: Dates TBA
Wailuku Library: Dates TBA
Lahaina Library: April 12, 10:00 a.m.; April 14, 10:00 a.m.
Molokai Library: Dates TBA