Blog: A taste of what you may find on Maui

Monthly warning siren testing

A friend was telling me about pandemonium created by the siren testing at the beach on January 1st. The siren went off at 11:45 AM and most visitors scrambled out of the water while locals just held their ears.

If you’ve been here on the first of the month, you should be familiar with the monthly warning siren testing. This is a check that the warning sirens are operational and is meant to be a reminder to all that tsunamis can happen.

Maui’s warning sirens

As an FYI, the tsunami siren test is a 45-second steady tone. During an actual tsunami warning or other natural disaster, it will sound repeatedly for 3 minutes at a time. If you notice a siren not going off when others do, you can report it to the Maui Emergency Management Agency at 808-270-7285 during office hours.

What should you do when you hear warning sirens?

If it’s the first of the month and at 11:45 AM, it’s just a test ~ no further action needed.

If you hear these sirens at any other time, head to higher ground immediately. It could be a locally triggered tsunami and you may have just a few minutes to get to safety. Tune in to local radio/TV and check social media for further instructions. Depending on where the earthquake happened, we sometimes have up to 10 hours notice (the sirens won’t go off that far in advance).

For much more information on tsunamis, check out this blog post from a few years ago.

Locally triggered tsunamis?

Yes, tsunamis are triggered by some earthquakes. While Hawaii is far removed from fault lines, Big Island has volcanic activity that causes earthquakes. Generally these local earthquakes are rather small. I don’t recall a locally-triggered tsunami in our 13+ years on Maui.