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Tsunami warning issued for Hawaii after 8.1 magnitude earthquake hits New Zealand

A tsunami warning was issued for Hawaii and surrounding areas Thursday in the hours after an 8.1 magnitude earthquake struck off the northeast coast of New Zealand. 

The watch from the National Weather Service’s Tsunami Warning System was ordered for Hawaii at 12:24 p.m. PT, or 3:24 p.m. ET. 

The alert said that the waves could hit Hawaii later in the afternoon, with the weather center adding that it was continuing to investigate a potential tsunami threat. 

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The warning center is also reviewing data to determine if there is a threat to California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and British Columbia.

A tsunami advisory was also issued for the American Samoa, with the weather center writing in its alert, “Based on all available data, there is a threat to American Samoa of sea level fluctuations and strong ocean currents that could be a hazard along beaches, in harbors, and in coastal waters.”

While the warning center initially issued a “possible tsunami threat” for Guam, a later alert said that despite potential minor sea fluctuations, there was no immediate threat to the U.S. island territory. 

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The 8.1 magnitude earthquake was preceded by a 7.3 magnitude one off New Zealand's coast in the same area early Friday local time. 

A tsunami warning was issued to New Zealand coastal areas following the initial earthquake, and the country’s National Emergency Management Agency later in the day issued additional warnings following the second, more powerful earthquake. 

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said Thursday that the two earthquakes, which occurred just two hours apart, were likely connected.

“Both of those occurred on the subduction interface between Pacific and Australia plates,” USGS said, according to Hawaii News Now.