Tsunami Advisory Issued for West Coast, Hawaii, Alaska After Volcano Erupts in Tonga

People stretch next to a tsunami hazard zone sign in El Segundo, California, on January 15
PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

The National and Pacific Tsunami Warning Centers have issued tsunami advisories for the entire West Coast, Hawaii, and parts of Alaska as a volcano erupted near Tonga late Friday.

The advisory was announced by the National Tsunami Warning Center (NTWC) at 7:55 a.m. EST on both Facebook and Twitter and is in place for all of the West Coast from the California/Mexico border through Alaska’s pacific coast to Attu.

Tsunami Message Number 2Tsunami Information from Tonga Islands Volcanic…

Posted by National Tsunami Warning Center on Saturday, January 15, 2022

The NTWC stated:

Tsunami advisories mean that a tsunami capable of producing strong currents or waves dangerous to people in or very near the water is expected. Significant widespread inundation is not expected for areas under an advisory. Currents may be hazardous to swimmers, boats, and coastal structures and may continue for several hours after the initial wave arrival.

The Hunga Ha’apai volcano near Tonga erupted at 11:26 p.m. EST according to the U.S. Tsunami warning system. Tonga is located some 1,400 miles northeast of New Zealand.

“The volcano, Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai, is about 40 miles north of the Pacific archipelago’s main island, Tongatapu,” the New York Times reports.

The Associated Press reports:

There were no immediate reports of injuries or the extent of the damage as communications with the small nation remained cut off hours after the eruption.

New Zealand’s military said it was monitoring the situation and remained on standby, ready to assist if asked.

The Tonga Meteorological Services said a tsunami warning was declared for all of the archipelago, and data from the Pacific tsunami center showed waves of 80 centimeters (2.7 feet) had been detected.

Residents in American Samoa were notified of the warning with the ringing of church bells as the siren system was out of commission, according to the Associated Press. Warnings were also issued for Samoa and Fiji.

Hawaii has reported waves ranging from one-foot tall in Nawiliwili, Kaua to nearly three-foot-tall in Hanalei.

National Weather Services in Portland, Oregon announced waves one to three feet in height were expected to hit parts of Oregon and Washington around 8:30 a.m.

“First wave may not be the highest so later waves my [sic] be larger,” the agency noted.


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