USGS
Hawaiian Volcano 
Observatory

Photo Information


Tsunami overturns boat in Hilo, Hawaiʻi
Photograph by Hugh Clark, Honolulu Advertiser

The tsunami overturned this boat in the Wailoa River small-boat harbor, Hilo. Unlike normal ocean waves, a tsunami consists of a series of waves, and the first to arrive is usually not the largest. The 1975 tsunami reached Hilo about 20 minutes after the local magnitude 7.7 earthquake. The first wave caused a 0.5 m rise of water, which was followed by a larger recession. The second and largest wave crested 2.5 m high about 42 minutes after the earthquake.

A series of waves surged in and out of Hilo Bay at approximately 15-minute intervals, smashing some small boats and washing others onto docks; four boats were sunk and three damaged. One of the waves washed a car from the pier into the harbor; another threw a man from his boat onto the pier, then washed him back onto his boat as the wave receded.


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Updated : 16 December 1998 (pnf)