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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Tsunami Warning for Hawaii

Aired October 28, 2012 - 05:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Natalie Allen at CNN Center. We are keeping a close eye on all of the islands of Hawaii, which right now could be experiencing a series of tsunami waves generated by an earthquake that occurred on the western edge of Canada. The folks in Hawaii had one hour of sirens telling them that they were in the direct line to see a tsunami this evening.

It is 11:00 p.m. in Hawaii. A lot of folks, except for reporters, have left the shores. They're expecting, perhaps, waves one to two meters. We just did hear from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center that all indications from tide gauges are that there is a tsunami moving in, but not big at this point. And he said there could be a situation where throughout the hours they could see waves that get bigger. But many people just waiting in hotels or have moved to evacuation centers in Hawaii, waiting to see what this tsunami brings. They've been told, some people that were stuck in their cars just a short while ago, about 45 minutes before this tsunami was expected to arrive, the police were telling them just get out of your car and start walking to higher ground, just in case, to be safe. But this has been a little bit of a surprise for the folks there in Hawaii on a busy Saturday evening. And unusual that Hawaii takes -- is in the direct line for tsunami all the way from the eastern Pacific.

We've been talking with people who are running hotels, officials there working the story, and we also have one of our CNN producers who just happens to be on vacation in Hawaii. Seems like there is always one there where we need them, and that is Augie Martin. Augie, you're on the big island, safe in your hotel. You've been up on the roof with a good sign from the beach. Are you seeing anything?

AUGIE MARTIN, CNN PRODUCER: No. Not a whole lot. I will say there was about probably 10 or 15 minutes ago a little bit of a discernible change in the way the surf was coming ashore on this beach. It's been fairly robust all day, and it actually calmed down for probably about five minutes. So it almost appeared to be sort of the opposite effect of what one might envision with a tsunami coming ashore. And I can't be sure that it was, but the behavior of the water definitely changed a little bit, in that it actually calmed down for probably five or six minutes.

ALLEN: Well, we heard from a gentleman, Victor Sardina with the Tsunami Warning Center, say that's what you would see. You would see it come in and then you would see it, like, pull back. And then because they expect a series of waves that you might be seeing that repeated throughout the evening. But still, I would assume no one on the beach is there and everyone is staying at a certain level at the hotel? What's the level guests have to be at?

MARTIN: Yes. They said earlier that if you were on the fourth floor -- I think it was the fourth floor or above, you were fine. And, indeed, there isn't anyone on this beach here. It's a nice wide beach. One of the more spectacular beaches in the state. But because, you know, the surf was fairly robust today, you know, I'm not sure what -- what level this tsunami would have to rise to, to really be very obvious to the naked eye. It is a very deep beach. But, yes. Aside from the surf just calming down for a little while, I haven't seen anything terribly obvious that would point to a typical tsunami.

ALLEN: About how many feet is your hotel from the surf?

MARTIN: Oh, it's right on the beach. It's right on the beach. And my vantage point is eight stories above the beach. And like I said earlier, it's a nice nearly full moon here. So visibility is pretty good, pretty optimal, in fact. But we wait and see if anything changes.

ALLEN: What's the atmosphere as far as the guests and the vacationers there in your hotel regarding this situation there this evening?

MARTIN: It's fairly calm and orderly. Occasionally some -- a couple or two will pop their heads up on the roof here and take a gander at the beach. But, you know, everybody seems very relaxed and almost curious at what may be coming our way. There doesn't seem to be an overwhelming sense of fear or panic. It's almost more intrigue than any of those things.

ALLEN: Well, hopefully nothing will happen to cause anything more than intrigue or curiosity there in Hawaii. How are you told as far as monitoring local news and the guidance that you're getting from the hotel? When will people know that they're out of harm's way? Will the warning be lifted? How does that happen? Have you heard?

MARTIN: I think everybody's relying first and foremost on the Hawaii civil defense and local media. The hotel here specifically said that if things got worse, they would come on loud speakers, and that the volume of the tsunami sirens would increase to a higher level than they have been. But for the most part, everybody here is watching local TV stations and listening to local radio for their information.

ALLEN: And earlier you told us, Augie, there were some aircraft flying in the area and some law enforcement vehicles, cars flashing. Are you still seeing that?

MARTIN: Yes. Yes, indeed. There are lots of law enforcement out stationed on the highways, it appears from my vantage point. And there have been probably two or three aircraft that have flown over this part of the coast here with their -- their light beams shining down on the coast and blaring sirens as they fly by. I haven't seen one in probably the last 20 minutes or so, but there does seem to be, you know, a pretty good law enforcement presence here.

ALLEN: All right, we appreciate it again. CNN producer Augie Martin who is there on the big island, on the eighth floor, describing a scene where people are mainly just curious about what's going on. And we hope that they have no reason for any fear this evening with this tsunami.

But let's go get the latest now on the warnings that we're hearing as far as the waves coming ashore, what they've predicted could happen as we see this live picture from station -- the news -- Hawaii News Now that you can see the waves there on the beach of Waikiki Beach. So, Karen, what are the predictions and what have we heard as far as the latest?

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Natalie, the prediction was that this would -- we would see the first hint of a tsunami or waves being generated about 10:48 local time Hawaii. So we're now 45 minutes or so past that point in time. We look at those beautiful pictures, and maybe we can go back to that. We don't see anything that looks ominous definitely right now, but there was a warning for this area. As opposed to the coast of British Columbia, where we had seen an advisory.

Why were they an advisory and Hawaii was a warning? Well, British Columbia, and we can come back to me, they are the closest to the epicenter of this earthquake. And as a result, those waves don't have a long way to travel, so they're not going to pick up that energy, they're not going to have the force, as opposed to traveling all across the Pacific basin.

And essentially as far as tsunamis go, when you have a subduction zone, meaning you get those plates, one going underneath the other or slipping, which is kind of a combination of both, then that sends the energy out over the waters.

If you were on the ocean waters you really wouldn't feel anything, even though those waves were traveling in excess of 800 kilometers per hour in some cases, 400 or 500 miles per hour. But as the water gets shallower and moves closer to shore, then all of that energy is just going to build up and release.

Well, for Hawaii, they were expecting about a meter to two plus meters or so, a tsunami. So we're looking at three to seven feet is what we had anticipated originally. This, the kind of cause and effect from a 7.7 earthquake, right around the central British Columbia coast, and that is a logging area. It's forestry. It's not very well populated at all. It's very sparsely populated. But you can guarantee there would be people right there who definitely would have felt that. But because it's so sparsely populated, we're not hearing a lot of people call in and say that they felt it.

There have been aftershocks. Just about a dozen or so since this initially occurred. Most of those aftershocks, Natalie, have been along the 4 and 5 magnitude, so nothing like the 7.7 magnitude.

Back in 1947, they had an 8.1 almost exactly in the same area. This particular one, the 7.7 one that just occurred, was reasonably shallow. I would say moderately shallow, just about 17 kilometers deep. The initial report, Natalie, was it was about ten kilometers deep. So that's fairly shallow. But it triggered the warning systems to go off. And that's why the people in Hawaii said we're going to issue a warning, a tsunami warning.

ALLEN: And that's what we're waiting to see right now to see if this does, indeed, generate the waves that they have predicted. We're going to listen in -- thank you, Karen -- just for a moment with one of our affiliates to hear their coverage, Hawaii News Now. Let's listen.

(BEGIN SOUND FEED)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're typically watching. So right now, that third wave coming in. We expect to get a little more information. Typically it's after about the third or fourth wave they start to update civil defense and whatnot as to whether or not they can downgrade the threat. So we'll see. We might have some more information in another 20 minutes or so as to when they may possibly downgrade their warning here. But that third wave coming in. I'll send it back to you guys.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Laura. Thank you so much for being down there and passing that information along to us. So far, so good, then with that 1 1/2 foot --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now we've seen that second wave. We'll be waiting for the third and fourth waves, but that is good news. Those 20-minute cycles of course a waiting game, but so far it seems like we're seeing consistent levels of those wave levels that you read earlier throughout the island.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's just hope that it stays -- the highest reporting from the first wave, about a foot and a half. Highest reporting of the second wave about a foot and a half. Again, normally the third and fourth wave is the largest, and hopefully that's on the lower end of maybe, like, three feet. And that would keep things pretty good.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ryan talked about -- Ryan, from the big island, reminded us that that big six-foot wave that hit in the Kona (ph) area was hours later. So what do we see -- the big island is one of the key spots we're looking at as well. What are seeing with the wave heights coming onto the big island?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So far the big island wave heights have actually been on the lower end compared to the other locations. It seems like Oahu has been picking up the largest wave heights, places like Makopu (ph), Kalui (ph), as well as Kahui Harbor on Maui.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want to head over to Cam Tran (ph) right now, she's at EMS with an update.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey there, guys. We are with John Cummings with the Department of Emergency Management. He's here to explain the process of the all clear. I know it's really early on, but just to let people at home know, what is the process?

JOHN CUMMINGS, DEPARTMENT OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: Right now, of course, we're waiting to see what's going to happen. We're not out of this yet. We're still in a warning. We're still anticipating a destructive tsunami event.

At a certain point the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center is going to look at their data, and this would be if we get a wave or we don't get a wave, and they'll be able to tell us, that hey, yes, it looks like the destructive energy has passed the island. This could be pretty far off. But once they give us that information, what will happen is our mayor, Peter Carlisle, will instruct our first responders to go down to the shoreline and to give us an eyeball of what's happening. Because we need a ground crew getting the information from the warning center.

So what that all means is basically they're going to feed the information back here, and the official word for an all clear will come from our mayor, as it would come from all other county mayors.

We're pretty far away from that right now, but that is the process.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you heard anything from the Pacific Tsunami Center yet?

CUMMINGS: No. They're just sitting and watching as we are right now. We're looking at actual video feeds as you folks are right now from the shoreline. They're looking at scientific data and sharing information from us. We're on live right now with all of the counties, (inaudible), civil defense and the Tsunami Warner Center. We have an open line. So we can immediately know if an island, outside of -- in another county, has some type of impact. That's going to affect everyone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So will the counties make the decision all at the same time, then?

CUMMINGS: No, it depends, because as you noticed, each county went into evacuation phase a little bit differently. Because it depends where the energy's coming from. So Kawai (ph) was first, ours is next, just going down the line, right. The same thing. All counties will declare the all clear at a separate time. Again, based on analysis of their mayor as to what's happening within their county.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And is that what's happening right now behind these closed doors?

CUMMINGS: Well, right now we're just -- we're just, again, we're way away from any type of all clear. We're just waiting to see what's going to happen. We're in forward mode. We are leaning forward in our foxholes so to say, and we're waiting to see that if something does happen, then we'll have to go at some point into rescue and recovery and emergency response mode.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's go to Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. I think we've got Laura there. Laura Imata (ph) live with an update.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So we're talking to one of the GSIs (ph) who's keeping an eye on some of the information from those title gauges, and he's giving us some information based on the third wave that's coming in. And basically they're saying -- I'm going to walk a little closer to you now.

Basically they're saying that it's generally lower in most areas than they expected initially. The highest so far, Kahului, Maui coming in at about 1.9 feet, Helo (ph) quite a bit lower, around a half a foot. So again, they still have a couple more cycles they want to get through before they really start looking as to whether or not they can start to reduce the risk that's out there. Even though as we've been talking about throughout the evening, things can change based on the way the energy is bouncing around within those bays, within those islands. But again, we're getting some hard facts here and some hard data. And it's generally showing that everything's a little bit lower than they initially expected. So really good news for everyone out there. But it's still going to be a pretty long night out here. I'll send it back to you guys.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, thank you very much, Laura.

And Justin, we wanted to put it into inches versus feet or meters. I think it's a little easier to understand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Largest wave so far, again, as Laura just mentioned, almost two feet, 23 inches at Kahului. The second largest wave I see here is at--

(END SOUND FEED)

ALLEN: We've been listening to our affiliate KITV bringing us some good information and welcome information that the waves that they've seen so far from the tsunami warning smaller than anticipated, about a foot and a half. They're expecting two more waves to come in, so they're still monitoring to see what situation all of these islands will see in Hawaii tonight with this tsunami generated from an earthquake in Canada. But so far, so good on what they are seeing. Not as severe.

But, again, they're still under a tsunami threat. No one's going anywhere. So we'll continue to follow the story.

We'll take a quick break. We'll have more for you right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ALLEN: Hello again from CNN Center. I'm Natalie Allen. If you're just joining us, we're monitoring a story developing out of Hawaii, which is seeing tsunami waves coming ashore right now. Not as big as they anticipated. That's the good news. But still coming ashore. Let's get the latest from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. I believe Gerard Fryer has been giving people an update via KITV. Here he is.

(BEGIN SOUND FEED)

GERARD FRYER, PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER: -- then we canceled the advisory. The mistake we made with the Japan's tsunami was that we were just looking at those 13 points, and they didn't tell us what was happening in other places. And we actually canceled a little bit too early.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is something that you've been talking about throughout the evening, that even though the waves that are coming in are going down, you still have that concern within the islands and the energy that's generated that way, that just created all those variations in the bays and the different islands the last time. Is that correct?

FRYER: Yes. I mean, this tsunami -- there's no question. This tsunami is big enough to generate troublesome currents. Fortunately, it's the middle of the night, so I don't think many people are going to go swimming. If they did, they would get into difficulties, no question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're told of another sign that -- out in California that based of off that, there's a little bit more optimism, because you're seeing that the trends are basically what you guys have predicted. Is that fair to say?

FRYER: It's a little too early. We really need to wait for another wave. Excuse me. I have to go back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Again, that was Gerard Fryer from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. And no surprise he has pulled back, because they're trying to gauge as best they can as to when they can reach the point of downgrading. It's not going to happen right away. They still have at least a couple more cycles that they have to go through before they feel like they've reached the peak of some of these waves coming in. And again, as we've been mentioning, everything that's going to help happen within the islands as well, because of the energy generated that way. So it's still going to take a little bit longer. But all in all, they're seeing levels a little bit lower. And so hopefully within the next couple of cycles, maybe an hour or two, we can get some concrete information as to when they may move to reducing the warning level out there. I'll go ahead and send it back to you guys.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks so much, Laura. You know it's been so interesting, when he said that it's actually a good thing that it happened at night. I know for evacuations that makes it tough. But it's good because he said that even though these waves are not necessarily as large as they first had predicted, they can generate some really troublesome currents that can be very dangerous for swimmers. It was a nice weather today, there were probably a lot of people out and about on the beach, so this is a blessing that it happened when it's dark outside. And hopefully no one out there in those waters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's good timing. Any time, and he said they feel that maybe the forecast was an overprediction, but you'll never know until it's finished what was going to happen. And overprediction is better than an underprediction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Dr. Fryer made a good point about the last event, about dropping the tsunami advisory, warning too early, because that's after the drop, after it was dropped is when we had all those problems in Kona. So we still don't know. Folks, we're only in our fourth wave. And these things sometimes could go on 10, maybe 15, 20 waves. So it could be a long night, but so far, so good.

Of the first three waves so far, we've got some wave heights here. The largest that we've seen so far coming in seven inches in Waianae, 17 in Haleiwa, 16 in Makapuu, 7 inches in Hanalei, 8 inches in Helo, and topping the list, 23 inches at Kahului Harbor. Actually 30 inches now. So, yes. All in all, it's big enough to cause problems, big enough to cause problems in the harbors, maybe strong currents, but not quite big enough to cause destruction or problems on shore. This is what we're going to continue to see all night long. But it looks like it may have been an overprediction of three feet to seven feet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Katherine Cruz (ph) has been out there in Waikiki. Katherine, you've been taking a look at the water, seeing any changes at all?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actually I was upstairs after I hung up with you. I went upstairs. And we were watching from the second floor and didn't see much. A lot of tourists actually moved back and went back in, I guess, to their hotels when they didn't see any waves out there on the beach. I'm actually up here by Waikiki Elementary School, where there are about a dozen police officers lined up. All the cars are lined up along Paki (ph) Avenue. They are staging, a lot of these officers are actually from the Waikiki substation, and that place is all locked down. As you mentioned, all the first responders have moved back. So this is where everybody's staging, waiting for the all-clear.

And I did actually talk to a couple of homeless people who were on the beach. They heard the sirens. And they packed up all their things and moved up to higher ground.

(END SOUND FEED)

ALLEN: All right. KITV's coverage there in Hawaii. Tsunami warnings still going on. They've seen four waves. About a foot and a half, not the three to six feet waves that they had predicted. So that's the good news. But it's been an interesting night for the folks there in Hawaii, who live there and all the tourists who are there. Big party weekend in Hawaii. Saturday night before Halloween. One party had 15,000 people near the beach. They had to get up and get out of the way. And everyone had one hour to evacuate and get to higher ground just in case this tsunami did generate the waves that they had predicted.

So they still expect more waves to come in. They're continuing to monitor it there at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center before they release this morning because they did that earlier one time and they still had some trouble at some outlying islands. All of Hawaii under threat from this tsunami.

Let's go to our meteorologist, Tom Sater, at the World Weather Center. And if people are just joining us, Tom, they might be interested why Hawaii was a dead on target from an earthquake that happened on the -- just outside western Canada's shore.

TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, right? In fact, this is an area known for its earthquakes. In the last 40 years there have been seven quakes that have registered 6.0 or greater. Now, you've got to go back to 1949 to find a quake much larger, at 8.1. And that was just 100 kilometers to the northwest of this site.

Now, of course, take a look at what we're talking about. This is a 7.7. The depth is not extremely shallow but not very deep at all. However, we've got to take a closer look at this area to really see the history and why the tsunami wasn't as large. Maybe why it was nowhere near what they had in Japan.

Of course let's talk about first of what we talk about when we talk about the magnitude and how many of these of this size occur. Between 7.0 and 7.9, this is a major earthquake. There is major shaking. I'll talk more about the region for you in just a moment, but we only have 15 of these a year across the entire globe.

So let me show you on our earth image here of where this area is. We'll talk about the tectonic plates involved. We have the Pacific plate. If we can show you the region for you, we'll get to that. The tectonic plate and the North American plate.

It wasn't a total subduction where one plate falls quickly below the other. This was called what we call an oblique thrust. There was some subduction, which causes a rise in the water, but there was also a parallel shift. So unlike Fukushima, when we had that large tsunami, which was an incredible thrust, we find a little bit of a slip. So we didn't have that mass, of course, what we talk about when the water's moving.

Now, for the most part, as we talked about, this was relatively shallow at 17 kilometers. There was a lot of shaking going on. But to give you an idea, this area off British Columbia is not inhabited. It's forestland. There's a lot of forest industry there. So, again, we don't have a shake map that's going to resemble much in the way of damage to the local area. But being so far away, talking about, Natalie, the sensors that are used in the ocean, to really detect the energy put a spike directly from British Columbia toward the Hawaiian islands. But we'll get more into that region and talk more about the history in a little bit.

ALLEN: All very interesting. Thanks so much, Tom. So a few more seconds to go here before we take a quick break. Just want to let you know that all OK in Hawaii so far as these waves start to move ashore. Four have come ashore. Just a foot and a half so far. We'll continue to monitor it and be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning to you. It is 5:30 on the East Coast. I'm Brooke Baldwin sitting in for Randi Kaye. We wanted to come to you early because it's already shaping up to be quite the busy Sunday morning. Let me just bring you up to speed as far as what we have for you. Breaking news here this morning. This magnitude 7.7 earthquake hit off the western coast of Canada. We're talking about the area around the Queen Charlotte Islands, just to give you some perspective as to where this thing began. Because we're going to be talking this morning a lot about the tsunami and the ripple effect and how this is affecting Hawaii.

Here is the deal right now. As far as Hawaii is concerned because of this earthquake just off of BC, evacuation orders have been issued. And as a result of that, emergency sirens have been blaring across parts of Hawaii. So just take a look at some of these pictures here. We're working with a couple of different pictures. We'll look now at this beach area. And as we look at these pictures in just a moment here, and here you have it looks like maybe one of these local reports. We're watching some of the local reports out of Hawaii. You can see some of the waves coming in.

Keep this in mind. If you think of that whole Hollywood mentality of that huge, huge first wave coming in to hit Hawaii, that's not -- that's not the case here. Experts say it's actually the succession of large waves that could be hitting the island. We've been watching overnight here, and we should be hearing somewhere between three and seven feet waves that could be slamming into the island for several hours.

So forgive me if I just talk live. OK. Let's go ahead and get -- let's get John Cummings. John Cummings is the public information officer for the Honolulu Emergency Management Center. John Cummings, this is Brooke in Atlanta. I know it's been a busy, busy night for you all. Can you just bring me up to speed, what are you seeing now as far as waves are concerned?

CUMMINGS: Well, you know, right now on the island of Oahu, we've been into this for about an hour now. And nothing sizable. But again, you know, tsunamis are a fickle science. There could still be the wave that's out on the horizon that we can't see yet that could impact us. So until the Tsunami Warning Center lets us know definitely that we are out of this, we're still in a warning, we're still in evacuation. (inaudible) could be hazardous situations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I am, I'm hearing that.

BALDWIN: I'm hearing a couple of voices in my ear. John, are you still with me?

CUMMINGS: Yes, I am.

BALDWIN: OK. Help us understand, when we're looking at these different waves and we're talking about -- we're looking at the succession of waves, how high are the waves that you've seen so far? What do you anticipate, let's call it a worst wave, what a worst wave might look like?

CUMMINGS: You know, the first (ph) wave could be just a slow succession where the water completely pulls away from the shoreline. The first wave could be where a huge wave comes in. It just really depends. It's hard to know --

(CROSSTALK)

CUMMINGS: -- when waves are going to arrive. What we don't know is really how big they're actually going to be until they're on the shoreline.

BALDWIN: OK. So as we're looking again at these pictures, I believe these are pictures from Honolulu. Tell me, you're there. Gauge the concern level for me. I know this is the kind of thing if you live in Hawaii and perhaps you hear tsunami warnings, you grow sort of accustomed to that. How is concern right now for you?

CUMMINGS: You know, concern is very high both for our folks here in emergency management and especially our residents, who have not only had to evacuate but have had to camp out some place. You know, maybe at a friend's house, maybe at a park some place or refuge center.

We're all very concerned. We have a history of tsunami events impacting us going over the last, you know, 60-plus years. On Oahu, here we had six people die in 1946. So the hazard is there. The history has shown us, so we treat this as a very destructive and dangerous situation.

BALDWIN: OK. John Cummings, we appreciate it. We're going to be checking back in with you here through the morning as we continue to watch here the tsunami warning for Hawaii, watching those waves. We've got a number of people that we're going to talk to. People who live there. Again, evacuations in place.

And we have Bonnie Schneider, who is standing here with me in the studio on this early Sunday talking about the tsunami. We just heard -- we heard John Cummings tell me, you know, look, this is something that folks in Hawaii are accustomed to dealing with. But this is certainly on a weekend that is the weekend before Halloween, when you have all these revelers out and about, creating quite a mess, I know, on some of these coastal roads trying to come inland. Not the best situation.

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: No. Not at all. The one thing is that it was at night. Had it been during the day, there would be even more people on the beach and more people in danger. When there is a tsunami warning, the most important thing to do is to get to higher ground. Whether you're in a hotel or whether you're on the beach. You want to get off the beach.

You know, I've studied tsunamis, and I know that a lot of people are attracted to going to the beach to see them come in. It's the worst thing that you can do. You want to get to that higher ground. Because when you're talking about a tsunami, you're talking not just about a wave. You're talking about a series of waves that come in. And often it's the second, third or even fourth wave that could be stronger. So it's not an event that just happens once and then it's over, because the water pulls that, takes everything with it, and then comes in again. Now luckily so far the initial reports that we're getting, the waves could have been a lot higher. And they actually were predicted to be even higher than what they were. But keep in mind it's not over yet until that warning is discontinued. And we're looking now at a radar picture of Hawaii. You can see various islands here as well.

This earthquake was so far away, but it was a strong one. Look at the magnitude. 7.7. Way up in Canada. And it just goes to show you how the energy can work its way across the ocean from an earthquake. You know, tsunamis are caused by three factors. Landslides, volcanoes and earthquakes. They happen deep in the ocean floor. And it could be a very slight and subtle movement. But there's a displacement of the water. And when that water is displaced, it has to go somewhere. The deeper the water, the less you'll even feel the tsunami. You could be out on the open water of the ocean and not feel a thing. But once the water builds and that kind of bubble works its way toward the shoreline, it can grow and generate waves. And that's the concern right now for Hawaii.

BALDWIN: So, Bonnie, listening to one of these officials at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and as they're anticipating these waves maybe as tall as six feet, perhaps more in the three foot range, one of the reporters was asking, what would the damage of a 3-foot wave really do? And he was saying, look, it wouldn't definitely destroy any buildings, but when you look at the coast here of beautiful Hawaii, he said most definitely it would flood a number of blocks deep into some of these islands. Do we know yet which island would be hit first?

SCHNEIDER: It depends on where -- you know, where the wave comes -- where the wave is coming in. We've had some reports of some of the higher amounts in some of the central islands. But it's difficult to tell because topography comes into the picture. Not just where the islands are located, but the shallow depth of the ocean around the island also can influence the size of the wave. You mentioned just possible flooding, maybe minor flooding. Remember, a lot of people in Hawaii are in their cars, especially at night, and they're close to the water. That's where they want to be. And that's what makes it so dangerous. It only takes a few inches of water to dislocate or dislodge even an SUV. So even a few inches can be very dangerous if you're in your car.

BALDWIN: To your point, do not head to the coast to take a look. Go the other direction.

Bonnie Schneider, we'll be coming back to you many, many times this morning. I appreciate it. First just let me show you, as this is a story -- this is happening right now. We're getting some bits and pieces of video I just want to pass along to you first. You can see here these are -- you can hear her talking about the supermarket here. So people are headed to the supermarket trying to, you know, grab some fruits, some veggies, because the water, of course, they don't know how long they may be at home.

Also lines at the gas station. People trying to grab gas when they can, as they know that the tsunami is coming. You can see here traffic already backed up because they want to do precisely that. Because they want to get gas.

Finally, we've been talking here what happens -- you hear this? Let me just pause so you can hear what a warning siren sounds like.

So this is what a lot of people in Hawaii on their Saturday nights were hearing. And when you live in Hawaii, you know exactly what that means. That is a tsunami warning. That means get away from the coastal regions and head inland.

I want to head to one of the hotels, to Robert Repass, because not only are people living here in Hawaii, many, many people, the fortunate ones, are on vacation, and Robert Repass actually lives there. But Robert, can you hear me? This is Brooke in Atlanta. Good morning.

ROBERT REPASS, RESIDENT: Good morning.

BALDWIN: Good evening to you, perhaps.

REPASS: Good evening, yes. It's still evening here.

BALDWIN: Tell me, from what I understand, it's the weekend before Halloween.

REPASS: It is.

BALDWIN: And you were out at a hotel. And tell me what happened.

REPASS: We were at the Marriott Courtyard for our annual Halloween party. And probably an hour and a half into our party, we were evacuated from the hotel.

BALDWIN: So how did they explain to you? Did you know what was happening?

REPASS: Yes, yes. Shortly before the party started, we were aware of the tsunami and the warning and were just kind of riding out until we got the final word that we needed to evacuate.

BALDWIN: Was there a sense -- how long have you been in Hawaii, Robert?

REPASS: I've been here four and a half, almost five years.

BALDWIN: Is there -- being a resident of Hawaii, is there any kind of panic? From what I can tell just listening to some of the local reports while I was talking to an emergency management official who said, yes, concern is high, I'm not hearing panic. Is that correct?

REPASS: No, no. The state and county of Hawaii do a very good job of preparing everybody. We really -- there's really not a state of panic in a situation like this. We're very prepared and very orderly. Traffic gets backed up. The gas stations get backed up a little bit. No really panic of any sort.

BALDWIN: So, finally, where are you now? Did you hop in your car once you were evacuated and head home?

REPASS: Yes, yes. I'm at home. I live probably I guess the best way to describe it in the foothills. And we're very safe where we live. And some of my friends from the party are here. I guess you could say we're having a little tsunami party. But we're very safe, you know, no danger of waves hitting us here.

BALDWIN: Let me ask you, as you were driving from this hotel, how were the conditions on the roads? Was there a lot of traffic? Could you tell a lot of people were leaving the coast?

REPASS: Yes. Traffic was bad, but again, everything in a very orderly fashion. The gas stations, there were lines at the gas station. But no chaotic -- everything was very calm, and people just kind of trying to get to higher ground.

BALDWIN: I like hearing that. Calm is a good thing. Robert Repass, we thank you. Sorry your party was cut short.

REPASS: No, we're -- thank you.

BALDWIN: But it sounds like everybody's hunkered down for now. Robert, thank you so much. And again here, these pictures as we're looking at some of these waves coming into Hawaii. We're talking about the tsunami warning this early Sunday morning because of this earthquake just off of western Canada, British Columbia, 7.7 magnitude. So we're watching here as these waves continue to hit. Tsunami warning, breaking news here on CNN, back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Good Sunday morning to you. I'm Brooke Baldwin here at the World Headquarters CNN in Atlanta. Breaking news this morning as we're talking about the tsunami warning in Hawaii. All began because of the 7.7 magnitude earthquake just off the coast of Canada, British Columbia. And that, of course, triggered the tsunami.

The first waves beginning at 10:28 local time, 4:28 Eastern. In terms of who's affected, all the Hawaiian islands, all the shorelines affected. The big question though is which island is affected first. Just about 80,000 people live in those evacuation zones. And the big -- also the other big question is when could they all get the all clear. That answer could be a number of hours from now.

So with that, we want to go to Gene Maestas, who is with the Coast Guard there for me in Hawaii. Gene, good morning. Are you with me?

GENE MAESTAS, COAST GUARD: How are you.

BALDWIN: I'm well. Why don't you just tell me what you know, what you see right now in Hawaii.

MAESTAS: Well, basically right now, the Coast Guard captain is looking forward to working with our state and county officials to ensure public health and safety for the maritime community. The captain of the port has ordered an evacuation of Honolulu harbor. We're requesting that all mariners leave the harbor at this time if they can. We also want mariners to monitor VHF channel 16 for notification when they can re-enter the harbor. But we're also cautioning the mariners to be advised that tsunami surges can continue for up to several hours.

BALDWIN: What do you mean by that, tsunami surges? What is that?

MAESTAS: Well, just like the last tsunami we had, you get the initial impact from the -- the first wave. And then these surges as the waves come into the harbor, it kind of funnels around, and then it goes back out, then it'll come back in and go back out. And as we witnessed last time, this happened for a few days, actually.

BALDWIN: OK. Tell me for the most part, because I know those sirens went off a little while ago, have most people heeded the warnings? Have they left the coastal areas for -- for inland?

MAESTAS: From what I have personally witnessed, yes. The public has taken it very seriously. And they have evacuated if they can or if they needed to the downtown or low-lying areas.

BALDWIN: Gene, how concerned are you about all this?

MAESTAS: Pardon?

BALDWIN: How concerned are you?

MAESTAS: Well, very concerned, actually. You know, we went through this not too long ago. A couple of years ago. And we noticed that there was quite a bit of damage in the harbors, even though the wave or the surge was small. You know, we witnessed the type of damage that it can do. So we're urging the public and the mariners to take this very seriously. Hopefully, you know, this is just out of an abundance of caution, and we don't have the same sorts of impact. But, yes, we're definitely very concerned about this.

BALDWIN: We're all hoping it does not have the impact, what we're hoping for, for your sake. But when you mentioned the smaller waves, the smaller surge, what kind of damage could that still do in Hawaii?

MAESTAS: I'm not going to speculate on what it will do this time, but--

BALDWIN: But the last time.

MAESTAS: In the past, we saw it actually lifted homes that were in low-lying areas and moved them. They actually took one house that was, I believe, on the big island and just removed it and took it right out into the harbor. So there was a considerable amount of damage.

BALDWIN: And, Gene, that was from -- give me an example. A three foot wave? Five foot wave?

MAESTAS: Well, I didn't witness it myself. But it was basically the surge as it comes in. BALDWIN: Got it.

MAESTAS: In a wave.

BALDWIN: Got it. OK. Before I let you go, right now for you, for the Coast Guard, challenge No. 1 at this hour is what?

MAESTAS: Well, ensuring public health and safety. Making sure that the mariners that can get their vessels under way get them out of the harbor so they're not stuck when these surges come in and out. That's our primary focus is to make sure we're notifying the mariners, and we appreciate your time in assisting us with notifying the mariners.

BALDWIN: We're happy to help you here notify them and get your message out. Gene Maestas with the Coast Guard there for us in Hawaii. Gene, we appreciate it. Stay in touch with us, please, sir.

In the meantime, Bonnie Schneider, she is here on this Sunday. We're all watching what's happening. Bonnie, good morning again to you. Tell me what you're looking at.

SCHNEIDER: We're watching, you know, two ends really of the world facing some major weather situations. We have a tsunami warning in Hawaii caused by an earthquake in Canada. I want to show you on Google Earth, and Judson (ph), if you can click on this icon right here, we can show you the magnitude of how strong this quake was. It was well over 7.0. You know, it's incredible to talk about such a large earthquake, because it really can have an impact across the entire Pacific Ocean.

So when we're talking about that, when an earthquake is well over 7.0, it's considered a major quake. It's really because of that disruption that we tend to see the energy work its way across the ocean, and unfortunately cause the threat of a tsunami.

And I mentioned that depending on the depth of the ocean, where it occurs and a tsunami can be caused by an earthquake, a landslide or a volcano, it really can make an impact in terms of the wave height. It's going to be a higher wave height when you're closer to shore. If you're out in the middle of the ocean and you're on a vessel, you might feel a bump in the water, and that's the tsunami. So it really can vary depending on how close you are to the coastline and the topography involved as well.

So that's something we're watching very, very closely in the Hawaiian islands right now as we still have the tsunami warning.

Luckily as we've been reporting, the wave heights have been coming in not as high as originally predicted. And you heard the expert that you just interviewed, that they come in series, and that's very typical for a tsunami. It's not one wave, it's a series of waves. And often the second or third can be stronger than the first. So that's something to keep in mind.

If we weren't so busy with the tsunami, we'd be starting with this. Hurricane Sandy bearing down on the East Coast. This is a major storm that's going to impact millions of people. I want to get right to that right now. The winds are at 75 miles per hour. Just last night I was tracking this as well. Not much of a change.

This is a really wide storm. Just a couple of days ago, the wind field was 271 miles. Now it's almost 500 miles. So it's a massive storm that's going to be a major rain event and a wind event likely to cause a lot of power outages.

Let's put this into motion so we can show you the track, the unusual track, almost unprecedented for this time of year, to have that northwest curve back onshore at the end of October, and then getting energized by another system coming in from the west that would really bring about that cold air. You might think, well, this would just push this thing out to sea, but not the way the atmosphere dynamics are set up. This is going to give it a jolt of energy and turn it into a super storm that will bring widespread wind.

You know, as soon as we get into Monday we have wind advisories -- you can see here. Look at the highlights all the way from Virginia up into New England, back out to Cleveland, Ohio. So some of the most populated cities of the U.S., including New York City with a population of well over 8 million people, are going to be impacted by Sandy. I think it will be the worst on Monday. We're looking at storm surge at a time of high tide, high tide of course, is on Monday. Four to eight feet possible. Depending on where the landfall comes in. It's such a widespread storm, but keep in mind, this storm surge is really going to be a problem in these low-lying coastal areas.

For example, Fire Island on Long Island, on the south shore of Long Island, that's already had some mandatory evacuations just for that threat of storm surge. So we'll be talking about Sandy, the heavy rain, the winds and the impacts for the next few days. Brooke?

BALDWIN: Talking all morning long, Bonnie. Don't go too far. We appreciate you very much. So tsunami in the west. Hurricane in the east. And that storm is expected to bring certain damage to the tune of $3.2 billion.

Bonnie mentioned wind. This is from wind damage alone. We're going to have much more on the super storm here after this quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: And good morning. Welcome back. I'm Brooke Baldwin in for Randi Kaye here on this Sunday. So from South Carolina northward toward Maine, the East Coast of the United States is feeling the effects of Hurricane Sandy or at least they're about to.

First let's talk about New York, where the Office of Emergency Management is preparing in case of storm surge and flooding there. Buses, subways, commuter trains may have -- all have to suspend service if the area is hit hard by this hurricane. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo warned the Metro Transportation Authority to prepare immediately. A final decision to suspend service will be made later today. To New Jersey, which could take a direct hit from Hurricane Sandy. Homes, businesses all along the coast, they're being boarded up. Just yesterday Governor Chris Christie declared a state of emergency for New Jersey. And he issued a mandatory evacuation for the state's barrier islands and Atlantic City casinos.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, R-N.J.: This morning I formally declared a state of emergency in anticipation of Hurricane Sandy, which is expected to be a severe and a potentially devastating storm that will hit New Jersey beginning Sunday night and be in full force by Monday.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: In Washington, D.C., store shelves are quickly clearing as folks there are preparing for the worst. DC Mayor Vincent Gray declared a state of emergency Saturday. City workers have already began prepping for clean-up. City leaders in DC say they will maintain contact with people who live in the area throughout the storm both on Twitter and other social media outlets. So keep an eye for that.

There has also been a state of energy declared in Maryland. In Annapolis, they are moving sand and sandbags into places just to protect people and businesses. City officials hope these initial precautions will help block any floodwaters from the expected storm surge.

And these utility trucks, they are rolling out. This is Chicago. 240 of these trucks headed to the East Coast just to help out with the arrival of Hurricane Sandy. Con-Ed says the trucks and the crews will stay as long as they need to, to help with expected power outages caused by the storm.

And Sandy isn't just a dangerous storm. It could have an impact on the election that, keep in mind, is nine days away from today. In fact, President Obama has canceled some of his campaign events for tomorrow and Tuesday, including his final trip to swing states here, Virginia and Colorado. Instead, we're told the president will be spending more time in the White House monitoring Hurricane Sandy.

As far as his challenger is concerned, Mitt Romney, he is making some changes as well because of the storm. In fact, we now know he's canceled all of his campaign events in the state of Virginia. He will now be joining his running mate, Paul Ryan, on a bus tour in another key swing state, really the mother of all battlegrounds here, the state of Ohio. The GOP nominee will also campaign in Iowa, Wisconsin and New Hampshire through Tuesday.

Let's get back to that breaking news this morning. The tsunami warning in Hawaii triggered by a 7.7 earthquake off the coast of Canada. Mayor Peter Carlisle, the mayor of Honolulu, joins me now from the Office of Emergency Management.