Maui News

Tsunami Watch CANCELED for Hawaiʻi Following 8.1 Kermadec Islands Earthquake

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The tsunami watch that was in effect for the state of Hawaii has since been canceled as of 12:20 p.m. on Thursday, March 4, 2021. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center states that based on all available data, there is NO tsunami threat to the state of Hawaii.. therefore, the tsunami watch for Hawaii is now canceled.

Governor David Ige said, “Many thanks to our partners at HI-EMA, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and the National Weather Service for working to keep our state safe and informed. Thank you to our citizens for your patience as PTWC expertly evaluated the threat level to our islands.”

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Update: (11:27 a.m., 11:08 a.m., 10:24 a.m. 3.4.21) Tsunami Watch Remains in Effect, Evaluation Underway


A tsunami watch remains in effect for the state of Hawaiʻi. An investigation continues to determine if there is a tsunami threat to Hawaiʻi following an 8.1 (preliminary 8.0) magnitude earthquake reported at 9:28 a.m. in the Kermadec Islands Region.


Right now, Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA) is working with partners at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and the National Weather Service to determine the threat of a possible tsunami hitting Hawaiʻi. Hawaiʻi is currently under a Tsunami Watch which means a tsunami may impact Hawaiʻi, but the threat and potential impacts are still being evaluated.

Maui Mayor Michael Victorino issued a statement saying, “The islands of Maui County are currently under a Tsunami Watch.  A watch means that a tsunami may impact our area. I urge all residents to remain vigilant as we await additional information from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. The earliest estimate for tsunami arrival to Hawaiʻi is 4:35 p.m.”

Additional Information: Large 8.1 Earthquake in New Zealand’s Kermadec Islands Region


A tsunami watch has been issued for the state of Hawaiʻi, effective at 9:38 a.m. on Thursday, March 4, 2021.

An 8.1 (preliminary magnitude 8.0) earthquake occurred at 9:28 a.m. in the Kermadec Islands Region.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center says that based on all available data, a tsunami may have been generated by this earthquake that could be destructive on coastal areas even far from the epicenter.

An investigation is currently underway to determine if there is a tsunami threat to Hawaiʻi.

If tsunami waves impact Hawaiʻi, the estimated earliest arrival of the first tsunami wave is at 4:35 p.m. on Thursday, March 4, 2021.

To check if your area is in an evacuation zone visit the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency mapping tool here.

Further messages will be issued hourly or sooner as conditions warrant until the threat has passed.

The USGS reports that the earthquake occurred at a depth of 10 km and was located:

  1. 574.7 mi N of ‘Ohonua, ʻEua, Tonga
  2. 586.4 mi N of Nuku‘alofa, Tongatapu, Tonga
  3. 702.7 mi SSW of Whakatane, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
  4. 703 mi SW of Whangarei, Northland, New Zealand
  5. 712 mi SSW of Gisborne, Gisborne, New Zealand

The earthquake originated about 4,600 miles away from Hawaiʻi. According to NOAA, in the deep ocean, “a tsunami can move as fast as a jet plane, over 500 mph, and its wavelength, the distance from crest to crest, may be hundreds of miles.”

The Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency reports that the event is also being reviewed to determine any potential threat to California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and Alaska.

Tsunami Characteristics and Precautionary Measures (as outlined by the Maui Emergency Management Agency)

The Emergency Management Agency explains that a tsunami is a series of long ocean waves.  Each wave crest can last several minutes and cause extensive flooding of coastal areas.  The danger can continue for many hours following the initial wave, as subsequent waves arrive. 

Tsunami wave heights cannot be predicted and the first wave may not be the largest.  Tsunami waves will wrap around the islands, meaning that all shorelines are at risk no matter which direction they may face.  The trough of a tsunami wave may temporarily expose the sea floor, but the area will quickly flood again.  Extremely strong and unusual near-shore currents can accompany a tsunami.  Debris picked up by the tsunami will amplify its destructive power.  Simultaneous high tides or surf will amplify the tsunami hazard.

Precautionary Measures:  Tsunami waves can be a hazard to swimmers and boaters as well as to persons near the shore, at beaches, and in harbors and marinas, and is now affecting the State of Hawaii.  This hazard may continue for several hours; the situation is being monitored closely and the advisory will end when the hazard potential has passed.

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served more than 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.
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