Tsunami Strength

We lived on Moloka’i, Hawai’i, for a year. While there, the school where we taught closed for only two events: bees which had nested in and overcome a wall of the school, and a tsunami warning.

It is hard to articulate just how scary it is to wait for a potential tsunami to arrive. It may turn out to be nothing. It may devastate the coastal towns. You cannot know until it is upon you. The greatest fear of the civil safety teams is that people will grow weary of warnings that do not develop into tragedy and will not pay heed to evacuation warnings any longer.

This September 29, 2009, video from the FBI in Pago Pago shows how “normal” everything is right up until it is almost too late.

The NPR site which reported the video said:

You can see three people walking across the parking lot. The first two walk out of the bottom of the video frame. A third person walks in the same direction as the first two, then stops and walks back towards the direction of the ocean. The person stops, apparently scanning the ocean, then turns and runs in the other direction after spotting the incoming tsunami wave. The questions that haunt the viewer are what became of these people? Did they survive?

You can find many amateur videos of tsunamis on youtube.com. In many, the strength of the water is hard to visualize. I will link to one video, but with a caveat. I link to this one because it shows the height and strength of the tsunami before it crashes and rushes inland. BUT I think the surfer who is riding this wave is absolutely insane.