Tsunami Waves Force Evacuations In Hawaii
UPDATE 7:50 a.m. PST: According to the L.A. Times. authorities and local reports say that the waves have so far been only a foot higher than normal. However, authorities have warned that more tsunami waves are expected to hit the state.
UPDATE 5:30 a.m. PST: CNN is reporting that tsunami waves are hitting Hawaii.
Evacuations are underway in Hawaii amid tsunami fears following a magnitude 8.9 earthquake that struck Friday in Japan.
The tsunami waves in Hawaii were expected to hit around or after 3:00 a.m. local time. The waves, which could be as high as six feet, are expected to reach the island of Kauai first.
Hawaiian officials are telling residents and tourists to get out of the coastal areas and head for higher ground. The tourist hub of Waikiki Beach in Oahu is among the areas under evacuation.
The first impact in Hawaii may be felt around 3:07 a.m. local time (8:07 a.m. ET), according to Hawaii State Civil Defense, which issued a tsunami warning.
Honolulu is planning for several contingencies, because it is not certain how large the waves could be and where they may rush inland, Mayor Peter Carlisle told CNN.
"It is a very difficult situation to confront," Carlisle said.
Hawaiian Public Radio news director Bill Dorman told CNN some roads were closed as a precaution. CNN meteorologist Rob Marciano said he expected the waves to first strike the island of Kauai.
Honolulu Department of Emergency Management spokesman John M. Cummings III said authorities were taking the warning "very, very seriously." "Anyone in the shoreline areas should get out now," Cummings said.
Warning sirens have been ringing every hour in Hawaii since they began 10 p.m. local time.
The Los Angeles Times reported: "Pacific Tsunami Warning Center officials warned that 'urgent action should be taken to protect lives and property. Tsunami waves effectively wrap around islands. All shores are at risk no matter which direction they face.'"
At least 50 countries have issued tsunami warnings.
The tsunami is expected to hit various locations up and down the West Coast on Friday morning. Fox News reported Orange County is closing its beach at 5 a.m. local time in preparation.
According to Fox News: "At roughly 8 a.m. ET – automated calls will be going into the homes along the beach communities where officials anticipate some impact from the tsunami.
"Officials tell Fox News, they anticipate a surge in Orange County of about two feet."
Fox News also reported that fire officials in Los Angeles County told them they are not going to close the local area beaches and do not expect any evacuations.