The west coast of the United States was under a tsunami warning Saturday after a massive volcanic eruption took place near Tonga, a small island nation in the Pacific Ocean.
“A tsunami has been confirmed and some impacts are expected,” the National Tsunami Warning Center said in a Saturday morning bulletin.
The advisory covered the coastline of California all the way to the Mexican border, Washington, Oregon, the Canadian province of British Columbia and Alaska, including the Aleutian Islands.
“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, said, according to the Associated Press. “I hope that elevates the importance and severity for our citizens.”
Tonga’s Hunga Tonga volcano just had one of the most violent volcano eruptions ever captured on satellite. pic.twitter.com/M2D2j52gNn
— US StormWatch (@US_Stormwatch) January 15, 2022
Residents are being urged to move away from the coastline to higher ground, while those living on boats are urged to go ashore.
Snider said that so far, the waves hitting Hawaii are about 2.7 feet above normal, while waves of one to two feet above normal were hitting parts of America’s Pacific coast.
“The important thing here is the first wave may not be the largest. We could see this play out for several hours,” he added.
“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,” he said, urging coastal residents to remain alert for emergency broadcasts in their region.
“Tsunami warning issued for Tonga following underwater volcanic eruption” https://t.co/wUC3i3izzt
— AYE, CAPTAIN!????⚓?? (@capitaine_jan) January 15, 2022
The eruption near Tonga left vast damage in the nation of 105,000 people.
“It was massive, the ground shook, our house was shaking. It came in waves, my younger brother thought bombs were exploding nearby,” said Mere Taufa of Tonga, according to the Daily Mail.
She said she saw the walls of a neighbor’s house collapse and be washed away.
“You could just hear screams everywhere, people screaming for safety, for everyone to get to higher grounds,” she said.
This family were in church. They’d just finish having choir practice and the tsunami hit ?❤️?? pic.twitter.com/DLLFRJ9BAc
— KNOWKNEE (@JohnnyTeisi) January 15, 2022
Resident Tevita Sailosi said residents are trying to cope with the shock of the eruption and the waves it unleashed.
A Twitter user with the name Dr. Faka’iloatonga Taumoefolau said the volcano rained ash on the island.
Raining ash and tiny pebbles, darkness blanketing the sky. pic.twitter.com/hAaiWATYKE
— Dr Faka’iloatonga Taumoefolau (@sakakimoana) January 15, 2022
“We’ve heard screaming, people have helped where they could. We’ve also heard some singing too, so that’s lifted our spirits a bit. We just hope everyone else is safe out there,” he said.
Tsunami warnings were posted for Australia and New Zealand. Residents of some offshore islands were urged to evacuate.
WOW. Absolutely insane video from a Fiji Broadcasting Corporation employee of the ongoing Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haʻapai volcano eruption, which has caused a tsunami. https://t.co/58UCa6QmbO pic.twitter.com/EO0FnRLqVo
— Scott Stedman (@ScottMStedman) January 15, 2022
The Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano began erupting Friday, with reports of a three-mile-wide plume of ash and smoke that rose 12 miles.
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