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Hawaii Travel --> Events --> Natural Disasters --> Tidal Waves --> 1946 Tidal Wave on the Big Island Hawaii

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1946 Tidal Wave in Hawaii

On April 1, 1946 tidal wave originating in the Aleutian islands struck the the Big Island of Hawaii without any warning. The wave killed 159 people, mostly in Hilo on the east coast and Laupahoehoe o the northeast coast.

Photos of the 1946 Hawaii Tidal Wave
Four pictures of the devastation caused by the 1946 tidal wave in the town of Hilo on the east coast of the Big Island of Hawaii.

1946 Earthquake in the Aleutian Islands

In the early morning hours of April 1 1946 an earthquake centered in the Aleutian Islands that struck Alaska in the early morning hours of April 1, 1946. I have heard reports the 1946 earthquake was anywhere between a magnitude 7.8 and 8.4. About 48 minutes after the earthquake a 100 foot tsunami (tidal wave) struck at Scotch Cap in the Aleutian Islands. The tsunami destroyed a newly built U.S. Coast Guard lighthouse and killed the lighthousekeepers and crew members inside.

1946 Tidal Waves in Hawaii and Alaska
Approximately four or five hours later, at about 7:00 am, a tidal wave struck the Hawaiian Islands with no warning. Over a 15 minute period the wave struck about 7 times, killing 159 people. Most of the deaths were in Hilo and Laupahoehoe on the Big Island of Hawaii. The maximum height of the 1946 tidal wave was 55 feet in the Pololu Valley, 36 feet on Oahu, and 33 feet on Maui. It reached a height of about 30 feet in Hilo and Laupahoehoe on the Big island where most of the deaths occurred.

Laupahoehoe Tidal Wave Monument
There is a monument in Laupahoehoe Point Park that was erected in memory of the 23 students and 4 teachers who were killed by the tidal wave. A sequence of three tidal waves struck Laupahoehoe, and since the first two were not deadly, school children were on the beach collecting fish deposited by the first two waves when the third and deadly 30 to 50 foot wave struck, dragging them all out to sea.
Photos of the 1946 Hawaii Tidal Wave -->


See also:
- Other Tidal Waves in Hawaii
- Natural Disasters in Hawaii



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- Laupahoehoe Point Park Photos and Memorial
1946 Aleutian Islands and Hawaii Tsunami



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