by tsunamis are not
surfable, officials warn
A videodisc attempts to educate
surfers on the dangers of disaster
On Oct. 4, 1994, a tsunami warning lured more than 400 surfers to the ocean off the North Shore, says a University of Hawaii-Hilo oceanography professor.
"Fortunately, that turned out to not be a huge, deadly, destructive tsunami. If it had been, there would have been over 400 deaths," said Walter Dudley at a news conference at Kewalo Basin Park yesterday.
Officials announced that state and county civil defense agencies will distribute to isle surf shops 15,000 18-minute DVDs that warn surfers about the dangers of tsunami waves.
The video, called "He'e Nalu," was produced by the Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes at UH-Hilo and the Pacific Tsunami Museum.
Darcy Bevens, educational specialist for the Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes at UH-Hilo who teaches fourth-graders about volcanoes and tsunamis, said many students want to ride a tsunami wave.
"We discovered that a lot of fourth-grade kids think they're going to surf a tsunami when they grow up. All the great things have already been done such as surfing Jaws, tow-in surfing," Bevens said.
"It's (tsunami waves) nothing like a surfing wave," Bevens said. "It's far too dangerous. It's nothing but white water, full of debris, no face to ride."
Tsunamis, Hawaii's No. 1 natural disaster killer, are series of ocean waves generated commonly by undersea earthquakes. Tsunamis can also be caused by underwater landslides and submarine slumps.
In the video, Dudley provides scientific information on tsunami waves. Surfer Stan Lawrence and hydrologist Kevin Kodama of the National Weather Service are also featured in the video.
Jim Howe, operations chief of the city Ocean Safety Division, said a tsunami wave on the open ocean travels 500 mph compared to a surfing wave that travels 30 to 35 mph.
Howe advised surfers to be sensible during a tsunami warning. "Don't grab a surfboard and wax it up. Head for high ground," he said.
Officials will have a statewide tsunami exercise at 11:45 a.m. Friday. This is the second tsunami warning exercise for the year. The exercise will coincide with the monthly test of the statewide siren warning system and the emergency alert system.
The exercise will simulate a locally generated earthquake from the south Kona coast of the Big Island, said Edward Teixeira, vice director of the state Civil Defense.
Tsunamis can happen anytime, said Brian Yanagi, earthquake/tsunami/volcano program manager for the state Civil Defense. "We've been in a quiet nondestructive tsunami period for the past 30 to 40 years. In terms of recorded history, this is statistically going to end," Yanagi said.
Residents near the coastline need to move inland to higher ground as quickly as possible if the ground starts to shake. Evacuation to higher floors is advised for those staying in Waikiki hotels, Yanagi said.