Don’t expect any effects from Pacific tsunami

Published 4:30 pm Saturday, February 27, 2010

As residents along the coasts of Hawaii brace for potential impact from a tsunami created by an early-morning earthquake in Chile, surfing enthusiasts along the Virginia coast were hoping for just a little wave or two.

“I sent a message to a guy in Hawaii that follows me on Twitter asking if were going to get any wraparound from this, but it doesn’t look good,” said Suffolk chef Steve Gellas, who talks often about his surfing on his Twitter account, SurfingChef. “It would be nice to get a little something. It’s been a few days since we had anything to surf.”

According to Lyle Alexander, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s station in Wakeland, the chances for any increased waves or impact from the Pacific-based tsunami is “none or negligible.”

“There have been tsunamis that have gone across the globe, but we’ve heard nothing about any chances of this tsunami affecting us here on the east coast,” Alexander said. “It’s amazing that we’ve had questions about impact from this earthquake more than we did with the earthquake in Haiti, which was far closer.”

The tsunami warnings, which called for two to eight foot waves in Hawaii after 4 p.m. EST on Saturday, was initiated after a massive 8.8 earthquake struck the South American country of Chile early Saturday morning.

Officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration set off tsunami warnings along the West Coast, including areas from California through Alaska. But, the main focus of the warnings was Hawaii, which stood in the way of a potential tsunami.

Media reports said officials were calling for potential flooding up to one mile inland if the waves were to reach the eight-foot level.

If any Virginia residents happened upon the National Data Buoy Center’s Web site (, they would have seen a buoy 370 nautical miles off the coast of South Carolina reporting itself as a “Tsunami station in event mode,” but Alexander said that very well could be a “malfunction or error.”