Earthquake Wednesday Has Pacific Islands on Tsunami Alert, Including Hawaii

A 7.6 magnitude earthquake in the South Pacific Ocean triggered a tsunami warning for the island of New Caledonia. Tsunami waves could quickly reach 10 feet (3 meters) at New Caledonia and Vanatua. A shallow earthquake shook approximately 95 miles southeast of the Loyalty Islands Wednesday afternoon, prompting the emergency notice.

"Based on the preliminary earthquake parameters, hazardous tsunami waves are possible for coasts located within 1,000 kilometers [621 miles] of the earthquake epicenter," the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center wrote on its site.

"If you don't have time to prepare your evacuation, get more than 300 meters [984 feet] away from the coast and/or get to a height of more than 12 meters [49 feet]," the directorate for Civil Protection and Risk Management of New Caledonia said Wednesday.

Tsunami waves are expected to reach up to a meter, or 3 feet, high in Fiji, and slightly less than .3 meters, or about a foot, for the following locations: American Samoa, Australia, Chuuk, Cook Islands, French Polynesia, Guam, Hawaii, Howland and Baker, Japan, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kermadec Islands, Kiribati, Kosrae, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Northern Marianas, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, Palmyra Island, Papua New Guinea, Pohnpei, Somoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Wake Island and Wallis and Futuna.

Tsunamis at minimal levels vary with slightly higher waves with minimal landfalls, and usually up to five minutes apart.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said initial tsunami waves could arrive between 4:42 p.m. UTC and 5:39 p.m. UTC but warned that the actual arrival time of the wave could differ from this and warned that "a tsunami is a series of waves and the time between waves can be five minutes to one hour" and that the initial wave may not be the largest and most dangerous in the series.

New Zealand authorities quickly rescinded its tsunami warnings after seeing the threats weren't vital to its coast.

There were no initial reports of immediate damage from the earthquake. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said although the epicenter of the earthquake should cause no imminent threat to the nearby coasts, residents and tourists of those area should still seek shelter and move to higher ground until the threat subsides.