HONOLULU (AP) — A Hawaii tsunami warning that spurred coastal evacuations statewide was downgraded to a tsunami advisory early today, ending the threat of serious damage less than three hours after the first waves hit the islands.
Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie said early today that the Aloha State was lucky to avoid more severe surges after a powerful earthquake struck off the coast of Canada.
Abercrombie said beaches and harbors are still closed statewide.
"We're very, very grateful that we can go home tonight counting our blessings," Abercrombie said.
Meanwhile, the National Weather Service canceled tsunami advisories for Canada and Oregon, leaving northern California as the only spot in North America still under a tsunami advisory.
The first waves hitting Hawaii on Saturday night were smaller than expected.
Gerard Fryer, a geologist tracking the tsunami for the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, said the largest wave in the first 45 minutes of the tsunami was measured in Maui at more than 5 feet, about 2 feet higher than normal sea levels.
No major damage was reported.
At first, officials said Hawaii wasn't in any danger of a tsunami after the 7.7-magnitude earthquake rattled the western coast of North America Saturday night, sparking tsunami warnings for southern Alaska and western Canada.
Later, officials issued a warning for Hawaii as well, saying there had been a change in sea readings. About the same time, a tsunami advisory was issued for a 450-mile stretch of U.S. coast running from north of San Francisco to central Oregon.
A small tsunami created by the quake was barely noticeable in Craig, Alaska, where the first wave or surge was recorded Saturday night.
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