Mammoth Alaskan Tidal Wave Hits Hawaiian Town Like a Sea Monster

Beacon and pier of Povoa do Varzim e Vila do Conde fishing harbor and marina under heavy storm with strong wind and big waves, north of Portugal.

Mammoth Alaskan Tidal Wave Hits Hawaiian Town Like a Sea Monster

A massive tidal wave can be a cause for fear in any coastal town. For one small Hawaiian town, Hilo, this nightmare scenario turned into a reality. The stunning footage featured in today’s list might prove shocking, but it is important to keep a firm grasp on the power of nature.

Nature’s Fury

tidal wave
While there are certainly worse ways to start a broadcast, you’d be hard-pressed to find one.

The oceans can be testy and temperamental. All it takes is a shift in the earth’s crust, landslides, or volcanic eruptions to create a massive tidal wave.

Powerful Waves

tidal wave
The wave generated reached out thousands of miles.

The waves felt in the post-war era were catastrophic for all those involved. However, the original tidal wave that is the focus of this list occurred on April 1st, 1946. It would change Hawaii permanently.

Point of Origin

tidal wave
At first, it would seem like a tidal wave starting near Alaska wouldn’t have nearly enough force to be devastating.

The tidal wave finds its start in the Aleutian Islands, off the coast of Alaska. Further, tsunamis radiated out for thousands of miles, affecting towns on the western coasts of North America and South America alike.

Record Breaking Power

tidal wave
This isn’t the most powerful wave recorded, but it is more than enough to cause serious destruction.

While this isn’t the most powerful tidal wave ever recorded, it is certainly up there. In any event, a massive tsunami is going to generate untold forces that can be enough to devastate any nearby communities.

The Cause

tidal wave
Despite its origins well below the water line, the effect could be felt for thousands of miles.

A landslide under the ocean saw massive amounts of rock shifting and collapsing. Subsequently, this resulted in the aforementioned tidal wave as millions of gallons of water surged to fill the vacuum left in the rock.

Powerless Communities

tidal wave
Due to the surge of water, no coastal defenses would have made a difference.

There is no safeguard or stopping a massive tidal wave. However, as many communities would find, you simply have to let these things run their course and hope for the best.

A Quiet Town in Paradise

Admittedly, Hilo is what you could call picturesque in the truest sense of the word.

Hilo sits on the eastern coast of Hawaii, a beautiful town by all rights. The landslide in the Aleutian Islands would set things in motion that saw the tidal wave hitting this little slice of heaven.

Catastrophe Strikes

Compared to earthquakes, there is a sense of impending doom when factoring in tidal waves.

Almost five hours after the tidal wave started in the Aleutian Islands, it would strike Hilo. 96 people would lose their lives, as Hilo was nearly wiped off the map.

Sudden Changes


The powerful tidal wave caused a change immediately in Hawaii. Homes and other infrastructure would be devastated as water surged over the coast and moved inland.

A Human Cost

Given that there were no safeguards in place, it is a miracle only 159 people across Hilo Bay would perish.

159 people would die in the wake of the tidal wave, with thousands left homeless. While there was a breakwater in place, it wouldn’t be enough to soften the tsunami’s power.


While the destruction is quite significant, it could’ve been far worse.

When looking at footage like this, it can be easy to dissociate ourselves with the real human beings on the receiving end. Businesses and homes are just gone, with no recourse but to rebuild.

Watch The Full Video

Despite the lack of defenses, Hilo would suffer far worse during a 1960 tsunami.

You can watch this harrowing video here. This is a fascinating glimpse into the past, as we are 78 years out from the destruction brought to Hilo.

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