What has been the most destructive tsunami to strike the Hawaiian Islands in recent history?
Early in the morning on April 1, 1946, an earthquake with a reported magnitude of 7.8 occurred in the Aleutian Islands off of Alaska. Almost five hours later the largest and most destructive tsunami waves in reported history struck the Hawaiian Islands. Maximum runups were reported to be 54 feet in Molokai and 55 feet in Pololu Valley on the Big Island. Waves in some areas penetrated more than half a mile inland. Between wave crests, the drawdown is reported to have exposed some areas of the seafloor 500 feet in the seaward direction. A total of 159 tsunami-related fatalities resulted from this destructive event. Many were curious school children who ventured into the exposed reef area, not knowing the receding water to be a sign of an approaching tsunami. No warning was feasible nor given for this tsunami.