A tsunami advisory has been issued for the entire west coast of the US after an undersea volcano erupted near the South Pacific nation of Tonga on Saturday, sending large waves crashing ashore the island capital, officials said.
“A Tsunami is occurring,” the US National Tsunami Warning Center posted on Twitter Saturday.
The National Weather Service issued the tsunami advisory for people to avoid bodies of water in regions stretching from southern California to Alaska’s coastline.
“Move away from the shore and head to high ground,” it said.
The NWS added in another report that “each wave may last 5 to 45 minutes as a wave encroaches and recedes” while “some impacts may continue for many hours to days after arrival of the first wave.”
“We don’t issue an advisory for this length of coastline as we’ve done – I’m not sure when the last time was – but it really isn’t an everyday experience,” Dave Snider, tsunami warning coordinator for the National Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska.
The first tsunami waves to slam the continental US were felt Saturday morning in Nikolski and Adak, Alaska, officials said.
A wave of about 0.6 feet was reported in Monterey, California, officials said.
But on the Golden State’s central coast, waves reached up to 2.5 feet and flooded beach parking lots at Port San Luis.
“The important thing here is the first wave may not be the largest. We could see this play out for several hours,” Snider said. “It looks like everything will stay below the warning level, but it’s difficult to predict because this is a volcanic eruption, and we’re set up to measure earthquake or seismic-driven sea waves.”
An advisory has also been issued for Hawaii, where there were reports of waves as high as 1.6 feet pushing boats up against docks. However, “no major tsunami is expected,” the state’s Emergency Management Agency said.
The Tonga Meteorological Services issued a tsunami warning for the entire nation.
Tsunami waves of up to 2.7 feet were logged by gauges in the Tongan capital of Nuku’alofa and two-foot waves were seen at Pago Pago, the capital of American Samoa o Saturday, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.
Footage showed large waves crashed ashore in the Tongan capital, flooding coastal roads and properties.
The Tonga Meteorological Services issued a tsunami warning for the entire archipelago.
No immediate reports were available on injuries or on the extent of the damage because all internet connectivity with Tonga was lost at about 6:40 p.m. local time, said Doug Madory, director of internet analysis for the network intelligence firm Kentik.
The tsunami waves follow two explosions in two days by the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano, the latest in a series of eruptions.
A stunning satellite photo released by the government of Tonga shows a flower plume from of the explosion of the underwater volcano mushrooming out of the surface of the Pacific Ocean.
Another image taken by a Japanese weather satellite of the billowing cloud, from a greater distance away, captures the explosion as a small speck shooting out of the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean.
A third photograph, taken by a NOAA satellite, shows an atomic-bomb-like cloud projecting out amid the Earth’s cloud cover.
With Post wires