Hawaii is currently being hit by the aftermath of a massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan last night, and the U.S. West Coast is next in line. Tsunami waves have already hit Hawaii's coast, forcing the evacuation of coastal residents. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center also noted that a 4.6-magnitude earthquake hit Hawaii at 11 p.m. Thursday local time (4 a.m. ET Friday).
Kauai was the first island hit by the tsunami, which is just now barreling through the Hawaiian islands. There's a chance that waves will reach 6 feet. Then, the tsunami will continue westward, and the National Weather Service says it's expected to hit the U.S. West Coast (Oregon and California) between 7:15 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. local time (10:15-10:30 a.m. ET) this morning.
Warnings are in effect for coastal areas of California and Oregon from Point Concepcion, California, to the Oregon-Washington border, as well as Alaska, from Amchitka Pass to Attu, and in Canada's British Columbia.
In both Hawaii and on the West Coast, people living in low-lying coastal areas have been told to move inland and get to higher ground.
The director of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center explained what Hawaiians should expect:
[Waves] are going to be coming in with high currents, they can pick up boulders from the sea floor ... they can pick up cars, they can pick up fuel tanks, those things become battering rams, and so it just amplifies the destruction in a big tsunami.
President Barack Obama said he instructed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to mobilize to help Hawaii and other U.S. regions "that could be affected" by the disaster. He also assured that his administration will "continue to closely monitor tsunamis around Japan and the Pacific going forward." He also reached out to the Japanese people ...
The friendship and alliance between our two nations is unshakable, and only strengthens our resolve to stand with the people of Japan as they overcome this tragedy. Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to the people of Japan, particularly those who have lost loved ones in the earthquake and tsunamis.
It's also not clear how hard the waves will hit the North American mainland -- as with most tsunamis, it's hard to judge just how bad it will be. The far northern California area near the Oregon border is said to be the most likely to see big waves. Either way, it still seems crucial that people in affected areas stay on top of the news and evacuate coastal areas if need be.
Here, a look at the devastating tsunami in Japan ...
Image via YouTube.com