Tsunami update; Palfrey attempts Kaiwi Channel swim

| March 11, 2011 | 0 Comments

At approximately 11:26 a.m. today, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center canceled the tsunami advisory for the Hawaiian Islands following the 8.9 earthquake that struck Japan sending a tsunami warning throughout the Pacific.

The event passed with no major impact to Hawaii’s six major islands — Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui and Hawaii Island — and with the exception of a section of Alii Drive in Kailua-Kona on Hawaii Island, it is business as usual across the state.

Maui County reported earlier today that road crews and utility workers were able to make some major roads and services operational again. Some residents were unable to get to their homes in the early morning hours because some streets were still blocked off for maintenance and clean-up.

At about 1 a.m. today, Maui County reported that it would close Kamehameha V Highway at Kawela Plantation I. Another closure was made in the Industrial area, where Maunaloa Highway was shut down. The county also closed Maunaloa Highway at Kalae Highway. Two county officers roved the town area to warn residents.

At around midnight it was announced that Kualapuu Conversion Charter Elementary School would be closed today. All other public schools had previously been scheduled to be closed for a teacher work day.

It just before midnight that residents in evacuation zones were required to begin leaving. Tsunami sirens sounded on a regular basis. Fire trucks blared tsunami warning announcement throughout Kaunakakai, telling everyone to leave for higher ground.

Kualapuu was then opened as an emergency evacuation center. Several senior citizens from Home Pumehana spent the night in the school cafeteria.

Some flooding was reported along the south shore of Molokai toward the East End. At the Wavecrest Condominiums, 13 miles east of Kaunakakai, sea levels rose to reach the buildings. Private homes also experienced some flooding. No reports of damages or injuries have yet been reported.

Molokai to Oahu swim is on

Penny Palfrey, who had just completed a successful swim crossing of the Alalakeiki Channel (seven miles from Kaho’olawe to Maui) on March 5, left La’au Point just before 11 a.m. in her attempt to swim the Kaiwi Channel.

Penny Palfrey and her husband Chris were evacuated to Molokai High School Thursday night, just hours before she began her swim of the Kaiwi Channel.


At 4 a.m., the crew for the Australian marathon swimmer confirmed via phone that they would be attempting swim number two today, on schedule.

“Weather and water conditions are optimal,” said swim advisor Steve Munatones. “There is no wind, which was a concern as we were watching the weather forecast. When the harbor master opens the harbor, we will be starting the swim.”

State authorities evacuated all coastal areas throughout the state of Hawaii after a massive earthquake in Japan triggered a Friday night tsunami warning in Hawaii, as well as in other U.S. states and nearly two dozen countries around the world. At 7:30 a.m. Friday, all islands were downgraded to a tsunami advisory.

The crew had flown from Waikiki Parc Hotel on Thursday and checked in at Hotel Molokai. They had hoped to depart at 2:30 a.m. Friday morning for a 5 a.m. start from La’au Point on the southwestern point of Molokai.

Munatones explained that the start time would be pushed down a few hours — based on the harbor master’s opening of the harbor — but would still commence today. Projections for a finish time were 12-18 hours.

Successful completion of this swim puts her a third of her way to reaching her latest swimming goals. The Kaiwi Channel, a well-known waterway for paddlers and the hardiest of swimmers, spans 26 miles between Oahu and Molokai.

Category: maui county, News

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