The picturesque town of Hilo has been hit by three major tsunamis in the last century. With no warning system and the largest wave, the first tsunami hit in 1946 and was the most deadly. The second hit in 1960 with a 35 foot wave, stopping the town clock at the time it was hit (1:04am). The third was in 1975 and with the smallest wave of the three, caused the least amount of damage.
The clock is called the Hilo Clock–or more dramatically the “Tsunami Clock of Doom.”
Of course when I heard there was a such a thing called the “Tsunami Clock of Doom,” I felt compelled to see it (and may have been a tad bit insistent about it).
It sits along the Mamalahoa Highway in Hilo and I have to confess that we drove right past it several times before realizing it stands along the highway by the golf course, right before you cross the Waiākea Pond.
If you’re interested in reading more, I found an article in Hawaii Magazine with details about all three tsunamis:
April 1, 1946
- Time struck: 6:54 a.m. (Hawaii Standard Time)
- Source of tsunami: 7.1 magnitude earthquake in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska
- Maximum wave height: 50 feet
- Damages: $26 million ($300 million today)
- Deaths: 159
May 23, 1960
- Time struck: 1:05 a.m. (Hawaii Standard Time)
- Source of tsunami: 8.3 magnitude earthquake in Chile.
- Maximum wave height: 35 feet
- Damages: $24 million ($171 million today)
- Deaths: 61 people
November 29, 1975
- Time struck: 3:35 a.m. (Hawaii Standard Time)
- Source of tsunami: 7.2 magnitude earthquake off the southeastern coast of Big Island of Hawaii.
- Maximum wave height: 26 feet
- Damages: $1.4 million ($5.6 million today)
- Deaths: 2 people
Instead of being restored, the clock was left with its hands frozen at 1:04 and now stands as a memorial for those who perished in the tsunamis.