Clayton, N.C. — A tsunami spawned by a magnitude-8.8 earthquake in Chile sent waves barreling north across the Pacific on Saturday, Feb. 27.
By the time the tsunami hit Hawaii – a full 16 hours after the quake – officials had already spent the morning ringing emergency sirens, blaring warnings from airplanes and ordering residents to higher ground.
Joe Young and his wife were stuck on a cruise ship off the coast of Hawaii during the tsunami warning. The Clayton couple said Sunday that they were enjoying their seven-day cruise until the tsunami announcement was made.
"The PA (public address) system said, 'We're holding out in the sea because there is a serious tsunami warning for Hawaii, and the Coast Guard is not allowing anyone into port,” Young recalled.
The tsunami caused a series of ocean surges in Hawaii that were about 20 minutes apart, and the waves arrived later and were smaller than originally predicted. The highest wave at Hilo measured 5.5 feet high, while Maui saw some as high as 2 meters.
"Having been in some pretty heavy storms, typhoons while in the Navy, I knew that some of those (waves) could be pretty rough. But I also knew that we were on a ship big enough that we shouldn't have much trouble,” Young said.
There was no widespread damage reported from the tsunami, and the islands were soon back to paradise by Saturday afternoon.
Young said after the cruise ship docked in Hawaii, he bought a "Tsunami Survivor" T-shirt to remember the experience.