WAILUKU - Maui motorists were rushing to top off gas tanks late Thursday night as the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center upgraded its advisory to a tsunami warning at 9:31 p.m.
The tsunami generated by an 8.9-magnitude earthquake near the east coast of Japan was estimated to arrive at 2:59 a.m. today, the center said.
"A tsunami has been generated that could cause damage along coastlines of all islands in the state of Hawaii," the center's advisory said. "Urgent action should be taken to protect lives and property."
The center said the first wave might not be the largest.
"The danger can continue for many hours after the initial wave as subsequent waves arrive," it said.
At 9:32 p.m. Thursday, Maui County advised residents to check if they are in a flood zone "to prepare for a possible tsunami evacuation this evening."
At 9:20 p.m. Thursday, customers line up at Tesoro Gas Express on Ohukai Road in Kihei. A tsunami warning was issued for Hawaii at 9:31 p.m. The tsunami was expected to arrive as early as 2:59 a.m. today. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said a tsunami was generated that could cause damage to the coastlines of all islands.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Flood maps can be found in the front section of the phone book or by going to www.scd.hawaii.gov and using the tsunami evacuation mapping tool.
"If you are in a flood zone and need to evacuate, please head to a family or friend's home in upper-lying areas out of the flood zone," the county advised residents. "If you do not have another location to evacuate to, then head toward one of the following Maui County assembly sites."
Those were listed as:
* Central Maui - War Memorial Gym, the Velma McWayne Santos Community Center and Maui High School.
* South Maui - Kihei Community Center and Wailea Alanui Drive grass parking lot.
* West Maui - Baseball park behind the Lahaina Aquatic Center, Fleming Park and Nahienaena Elementary School.
* East Maui - Camp Keanae and Hana High and Elementary School.
* Upcountry - Mayor Hannibal Tavares Community Center, Eddie Tam Gym and the Kula Community Center.
The earthquake struck Japan at 7:46 p.m. Thursday Hawaii time.