Explore the Legacy of a Tsunami
Mother Nature has dealt the Islands a few fierce blows in recorded history. Big Island residents are especially wary of tsunamis due to two devastating incidents that still reside in memory.
On April 1, 1946, tsunami waves, generated by an earthquake in the Aleutian Islands, raced 2,300 miles across the ocean in 5 hours and sent a 25-foot wall of water ashore in Hilo. The tsunami struck with little warning, claiming 159 lives and destroying more than 1,300 homes.
Fourteen years later, on May 22, 1960, an earthquake on the coast of Chile sent tsunami waves tearing across the Pacific at 442 miles per hour, reaching Hilo in 15 hours and culminating in 35-foot waves that left 61 people dead.
The Pacific Tsunami Museum, at the corner of Kamehameha and Kalakaua avenues in downtown Hilo, offers a wealth of information about tsunamis, as well as educational exhibits and walking/driving tours of tsunami sites. Museum hours are Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.