Tsunami Advisory Issued For US West Coast After Large Volcanic Eruption Near Tonga | All You Need to Know

The National Emergency Management Agency said some parts of New Zealand could expect strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges at the shore following a large volcanic eruption.

Published: January 15, 2022 10:15 PM IST

By India.com News Desk | Edited by Sumaila Zaman

Volcano erupts in Pacific, West Coast under tsunami advisory for World.(Twitter Pic credit: Dr Faka’iloatonga Taumoefolau)

Wellington: An undersea volcano erupted near the Pacific nation of Tonga on Saturday, sending large tsunami waves crashing across the shore and people rushing to higher ground. A tsunami advisory has been issued for Hawaii, Alaska, and the US Pacific coast following the eruption, US media reported.

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There were no immediate reports of injuries or the extent of the damage as communications with the small island nation remained cut off hours after the eruption. In Hawaii, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre reported waves slamming ashore from half a metre (a foot) in Nawiliwili, Kauai, to 80 cm (2.7 feet) in Hanalei.

Describing the situation in Hawaii, the centre took to Twitter and wrote, ”We are relieved that there is no reported damage and only minor flooding throughout the islands.” On Tonga, a video posted to social media showed large waves washing ashore in coastal areas, swirling around homes and buildings.

New Zealand’s military said that it was monitoring the situation and remained on standby, ready to assist if asked. Satellite images showed a huge eruption, a plume of ash, steam, and gas rising like a mushroom above the blue Pacific waters.

Tsunami Advisory Issued

The Tonga Meteorological Services said a tsunami warning was declared for all of the archipelagoes, and data from the Pacific tsunami centre showed waves of 80 cm (2.7 feet) had been detected. In Hawaii, Alaska, and along the US Pacific coast, residents were asked to move away from the coastline to higher ground and pay attention to specific instructions from their local emergency management officials, said Dave Snider, tsunami warning coordinator for the National Tsunami Warning Centre in Palmer, Alaska.

”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,” he added. ”I hope that elevates the importance and severity for our citizens.”

He said the waves already slamming ashore in Hawaii were just under the criteria for a more serious tsunami warning, with measurements at 80 cm (2.7 feet) in Hanalei and Maui. Waves of about 91 cm (3 feet) or above would trigger a warning. Snider said they’re currently expecting waves of 30 cm (1 foot) to 61 cm (2 feet) along the Pacific coast.

Snider said residents in these areas should expect waves and strong and unusual currents for many hours and there could be some low areas that are inundated, such as marinas and harbours. He said, ”The important thing here is the first wave may not be the largest. We could see this play out for several hours.” 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 added.

Residents of American Samoa were alerted of the tsunami warning by local broadcasters as well as church bells that rang territory-wide. An outdoor siren warning system was out of service. Those living along the shoreline quickly moved to higher ground.

As night fell, there were no reports of any damage, and the Hawaii-based tsunami centre cancelled the alert. Authorities in the nearby island nations of Fiji and Samoa also issued warnings, telling people to avoid the shoreline due to strong currents and dangerous waves. The Japan Meteorological Agency said there may be slight swelling of the water along the Japanese coasts, but it was not expected to cause any damage.

The Islands Business news site reported that a convoy of police and military troops evacuated Tonga’s King Tupou VI from his palace near the shore. He was among the many residents who headed for higher ground. The explosion of the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano was the latest in a series of spectacular eruptions. A Twitter user identified as Dr Faka’iloatonga Taumoefolau posted a video showing waves crashing ashore.

”Can literally hear the volcano eruption, sounds pretty violent, he wrote,” adding in a later post. Earlier, the Matangi Tonga news site reported that scientists observed massive explosions, thunder, and lightning near the volcano after it started erupting early Friday. Satellite images showed a 5-km (3 mile) -wide plume rising into the air to about 20 km (12 miles).

More than 2,300 km (1,400 miles) away in New Zealand, officials were warning of storm surges from the eruption. The National Emergency Management Agency said some parts of New Zealand could expect strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges at the shore following a large volcanic eruption.

More about the Volcano

The volcano is located about 64 km (40 miles) north of the capital, Nuku’alofa. Back in late 2014 and early 2015, a series of eruptions in the area created a small new island and disrupted international air travel to the Pacific archipelago for several days. Tonga is home to about 105,000 people.

(With Inputs From PTI)

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Published Date: January 15, 2022 10:15 PM IST