A tsunami warning was issued for the west coast of the US and Canada, from California to Alaska, and another also for Hawaii., after the eruption of an underwater volcano in the Pacific Ocean, which generated a tsunami in the Tonga archipelago this Saturday.
According to the National Weather Service’s Tsunami Warning System, a tsunami warning is issued “when a tsunami with the potential to generate strong currents or waves dangerous to those in or near the water is imminent, expected, or is occurring. The threat may continue for several hours after the initial arrival, but no significant flooding is expected for the areas under this advisory.”
Among the measures to be taken in the areas under tsunami warning are “the closure of beaches, the evacuation of ports and marinas, and the repositioning of ships in deep water when there is time to do so safely.”
The warning for the US West Coast was issued after a tsunami affected the islands of the Tonga archipelago in the Pacific, following the eruption of the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai underwater volcano. this Saturday.
Volcanic eruption and tsunami in Tonga
Residents of those islands had to flee to higher ground as the sea began to rise Saturday after a massive volcanic eruption heard hundreds of miles away.
“A tsunami of 1.20 m (3.9 ft) was observed in Nuku’alofa,” the capital of the small archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology announced.
A previous tsunami had not exceeded 12 inches (30 cm). And the alert had just been lifted when the volcano erupted again.
“I can literally hear the volcano erupting, it sounds quite violent,” one Twitter user wrote, adding in another post later: “Ash and small stones are raining, darkness covers the sky.”
Satellite images showed a huge eruption and plume of ash, steam and gas, which was captured from space.
The eruption lasted eight minutes, and was so strong it was heard “like distant thunder” over the Fiji Islands, nearly 500 miles (more than 800 km) away, Fiji officials said.
They also warned residents to cover water reservoirs to protect them from rain or acid ash.
“It was a massive explosion,” he explained to the news site stuff a resident, Mere Taufa, who was at home preparing dinner at the time. “The ground shook, the whole house shook. It was coming in waves. My younger brother believed that bombs were exploding near our house,” he said.
A few minutes later, the water invaded his house, and he saw the wall of a neighboring house fall. “We knew right away that it was a tsunami, with the water pouring into the house. Screams were heard everywhere, and everyone started fleeing towards the heights,” he added.
So did the king of the Tongas, Tupou VI, who was evacuated from the royal palace in Nuku’alofa and taken to a villa far from the coast.
Victorina Kioa of the Tonga Public Utilities Commission called on people to “stay away from all threatened places, meaning beaches, reefs and all flat coastlines”.
For the moment No injuries were reported and the extent of material damage is unknown. since communications with the small island nation were proving difficult.
The New Zealand Army said it was on alert monitoring the situation and ready to act if necessary.
This underwater volcano is located about 40 miles (64 kms) north of the Tongan capital, Nuku’alofa. In late 2014 and early 2015, a series of eruptions in the area created a small new island and disrupted air traffic with the archipelago for several days, the AP reported.
Warning of “minor tsunami” on Easter Island
The National Emergency Office (Onemi) of Chile warned this Saturday about the possibility that a “smaller tsunami”, about 30 centimeters, could reach Easter Island, also due to the volcanic eruption in Tonga.
“As a precaution, LEAVE THE BEACH AREA, due to a minor tsunami, on Easter Island,” was the emergency message that reached all the inhabitants of the island, located 2,050 miles (3,300 km) west of the Chilean coast, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.