A powerful 8.8 magnitude earthquake struck offshore of Chile this morning. Pacific coasts including all Hawaiian Islands are under emergency Tsunami warning. That means get the hell off the beach in those areas or any place near it. Experts indicate there is time for residents near vulnerable shores to proceed quickly but safely and calmly to higher ground:
"Urgent action should be taken to protect lives and property," the Warning Center said in a bulletin. "All shores are at risk ... The center has issued a Pacific-wide tsunami warning that included Hawaii and stretched across the ocean from South America to the Pacific Rim.
Geophysicist Victor Sardina said the Hawaii-based center was urging all countries included in the warning to take the threat very seriously. "Everybody is under a warning because the wave, we know, is on its way. Everybody is at risk now," he said in a telephone interview.
The center estimates the first tsunami, which is a series of several waves in succession, will hit Hawaii at 11:19 a.m. Hawaii time (4:19 p.m. EST) in the town of Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii, with waves in Honolulu at 11:52 a.m.
Take this seriously: waves are flaky, chaotic phenomena. The irregular shape of ocean bottoms and coastlines can cause unpredictable pockets of amplification. That means a Tsunami can be enormous in one locale and not so huge on the same beach just a few miles away. It's a bad idea to go down just to watch it.
This is a devastating event. Chile is relatively well prepared for major quakes, but it was hard won preparation. In 1960 the South American nation was hit by the Valdivia Earthquake registering 9.5 on the MMS. It remains the most powerful earthquake ever recorded.
USGS info page here. NYT has an excellent update page and livestream. See also additional discussion is going on in IndianaDemocrat's recommended diary.