The potential tsunami scenario Saturday, as shown by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center.
Col. Roger M. Caires
Hawaii Wing Commander
HAWAII – While wings all along the East Coast were preparing to deal with Hurricane Sandy, Hawaii Wing members found themselves facing the threat of another natural disaster for a few hours Saturday night on the other side of the continent.
The wing responded to a tsunami alert at 7 p.m. local time in the aftermath of a 7.7 magnitude earthquake, followed by a 5.8 magnitude aftershock, in the Queen Charlotte Islands area off of the coast of British Columbia in Canada.
Within an hour, Civil Air Patrol planes statewide were ready to commence flights warning residents and visitors in coastal areas or tsunami inundation zones and low-lying areas to evacuate to higher ground. The warning flights were all completed before the first estimated impact time despite the short notice.
The biggest waves, from 3 to 6 feet, were expected at Hanalei on the north shore of Kauai, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. The largest wave, though, measured in Kahului on the island of Maui, was about 2.5 feet above ambient sea level, the warning center said.
The tsunami alert was called off at 12:45 a.m.
"The Kauai CAP staff and aircraft performed their missions above what I considered 'as expected.'" Theodore Daligdig, manager of the Kauai Civil Defense Agency, told the wing's commander, Col. Roger Caires, in an email a few hours later. "Please commend your Kauai EOC staff who kept the information flow going continuously.
"I have the utmost respect for a fine group of professional responders ... the CAP."