Hawaii Braces for 'Dangerous Ocean Currents' and 'Weird Tides'

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A tsunami generated by a magnitude-8.2 earthquake off Chile is unlikely to cause more than "dangerous ocean currents" and "weird tides" in Hawaii, officials said early Wednesday.

The deadly quake struck off the Chilean port city of Iquique and triggered a wave of nearly 7 feet near its epicenter.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center later issued a tsunami advisory for Hawaii, which is located almost 6,500 miles away.

A propagation map shows the possible paths and intensity of tsunami waves after Tuesday's Chilean earthquake.National Tsunami Warning Center

Shelly Kunishige, public information officer for the Hawaii State Civil Defense, said the strong currents were expected to arrive shortly after 3 a.m. local time (9 a.m. ET) and could last for several hours.

"Luckily there will be no effects on land for us but we think there will be dangerous ocean currents so we have put a tsunami [advisory] in place," she added.

According to Kunishige, Hilo Bay on Hawaii island and parts of Maui have traditionally been most affected by strong wave energy because of the symmetry and layout of the harbors. Officials closed beaches and removed cruise ships from these areas late Tuesday.

"The main reason we put out the advisory is huge ocean currents that could affect beach-goers, surfers and swimmers," she added. "We have seen a few surfers go out in to the water but most of them respect the warnings."

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued an earlier notice saying "sea level changes and strong currents may occur along all coasts that could be a hazard to swimmers and boaters as well as to persons near the shore at beaches and in harbors and marinas. The threat may continue for several hours after the initial wave arrival."

Speaking to NBC station KNHL, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said: “What we’re going to be doing here on Oahu is making sure that people don’t go into the water. We’re going to have weird tides, fluctuations and waves that can reverberate for hours. We could some minor flooding at some of our beaches and beach parks so we’re going to be asking our community services folks to go out and notify people, particularly some of our homeless folks.”

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