Hawaii tsunami watch lifted, but Big Island beaches closed after Samoa quake

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A tsunami watch for the Hawaiian Islands has been lifted, but beaches on the Big Island of Hawaii will be closed today.

The state of Hawaii was briefly under a tsunami watch this morning after a magnitude 8.3 undersea earthquake occurred off of the islands of Samoa.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Honolulu issued the tsunami watch at 8:05 a.m. (Hawaii time), while determining whether there was a threat of a destructive wave striking Hawaii. The United States Geological Survey said that the Samoa earthquake occurred 20 miles below the ocean floor at 6:48 a.m. (7:48 a.m., Hawaii time), 125 miles from Samoa and 120 miles from American Samoa.

The islands of Samoa are 2,600 miles southwest of Hawaii.

The tsunami watch for Hawaii was canceled at 10:23 a.m., and downgraded to an advisory. An advisory means a tsunami is not expected, but swimmers and boaters should watch for powerful surges and/or rip currents.

Pacific Tsunami Warning Center officials said a 2- to 3-foot surge could still affect Hawaii’s coastal areas between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., but there would be no need for evacuations.

Hawaii County Civil Defense officials issued a statement at 10:30 a.m. this morning saying that, as a precaution, all Big Island of Hawaii beaches would be closed until Wednesday morning. Beaches on all other Hawaii islands remain open, but caution is advised.

Graphic of Samoa-generated Pacific Ocean tsunami travel times: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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