Tsunami Waves Generated by Japan Quake Hit U.S. West Coast
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Tsunami waves swamped Hawaii beaches and brushed the U.S. western coast Friday but didn't immediately cause major damage after devastating Japan and sparking evacuations throughout the Pacific.
Water rushed up on roadways and into hotel lobbies on the Big Island and low-lying areas in Maui were flooded as 7-foot waves crashed ashore. Smaller waves hit the U.S. western coast and beaches were closed as fishermen fired up their boats and left harbors to ride out the swell.
Scientists warned that the first tsunami waves are not always the strongest, and officials said people in Hawii and along the West Coast should watch for strong currents and heed calls for evacuations. The tsunami warning was downgraded to an advisory in Hawaii, and Gov. Neil Abercrombie said the islands were "fortunate almost beyond words."
"All of us had that feeling that Hawaii was just the most blessed place on the face of the Earth today," he said.
Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa said Hawaii's second largest island saw the biggest waves. The waves struck as far inland as 100 yards, covering the main roadway, he said.