Tsunami advisory issued for West Coast after underwater volcano erupti…

A tsunami advisory was in effect for the Southern California coast Saturday morning after a volcano erupted near the Pacific nation of Tonga.

According to the National Weather Service in Los Angeles County, a tsunami advisory is in effect for county beaches, with initial groups are expected around 7:45 a.m. However, there were no meaningful concerns about inundation and the main concerns were over strong rip current, the agency said.

L.A. County officials said residents living within a tsunami advisory area should do the following:

  • Move out of the water, off the beach, and away from harbors, marinas, breakwaters, bays and inlets.
  • Do not go to the shore to observe the tsunami.
  • Do not return to the coast until local emergency officials indicate it is safe.

In Orange County, the first groups are expected to hit at approximately 7:55 a.m. In a press release Saturday, officials announced the closure of all Orange County beaches, harbors and docks until further notice.

“Although no meaningful coastal flooding is expected, some areas could experience dangerous currents and tidal surges due to this tsunami along beaches and in harbors and marinas,” the Orange County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release. “The impact of this tsunami will be stronger than normal currents and possible higher than normal tidal surges along the beaches.”

In Berkeley, officials closed the city’s marina and urged people to seek higher ground. The Berkeley Fire Department issued a mandatory evacuation for the marina area as 2- to 3-foot groups were expected to arrive at about 7:30 a.m.

Meanwhile, there were no immediate reports of injuries or the extent of the damage because all internet connectivity with Tonga was lost at about 6:40 p.m. local time — about 10 minutes after problems began, said Doug Madory, director of internet examination for the network intelligence firm Kentik.

Tonga gets its internet via an undersea cable from Suva, Fiji, which presumably was damaged. The company that manages that connection, Southern Cross Cable Network, could not closest be reached for comment.

In Hawaii, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reported groups slamming ashore from half a meter (1.6 feet) in Nawiliwili, Kauai, to 80 centimeters (2.7 feet) in Hanalei. “We are relieved that there is no reported damage and only minor flooding throughout the islands,” the center said, describing the situation in Hawaii.

On Tonga, home to about 105,000 people, video posted to social media showed large groups washing ashore in coastal areas, swirling around homes and buildings, including a church. Satellite images showed a huge eruption, a plume of ash, steam and gas rising like a mushroom above the blue Pacific waters.

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

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

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 video showing groups crashing ashore.

“Can literally hear the volcano eruption, sounds pretty violent,” he wrote, adding in a later post: “Raining ash and tiny pebbles, darkness blanketing the sky.”

In Hawaii, Alaska and along the U.S. 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 Center 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 said. “I hope that elevates the importance and severity for our citizens.”

According to the National Weather Service, a tsunami advisory method a dangerous wave is on the way. “Strong and uncommon currents are expected along the coast, and in bays, marinas, and harbors,” the agency said. “Move to high ground and away from the shore.”

The first groups to hit the continental United States were measured at about 30 centimeters (1 foot) in Nikolski, Atka and Adak, Alaska. The wave was about 20 centimeters (.7 feet) at Monterey, California, the U.S. National Tsunami Warning Center said in a tweet.

The National Weather Service said there are reports of groups pushing boats in Hawaii. Sea level fluctuations were also beginning in Alaska and California, according to the National Tsunami Warning Center.

Beaches and docks were closed across Southern California as a precaution but the National Weather Service tweeted there were “no meaningful concerns about inundation.” Strong rip currents were possible, however, and officials warned people to stay out of the water.

Crowds gathered at the Santa Cruz shelter early Saturday to watch water slowly rise and fall, straining boat ties on docks. There was no obvious immediate damage. In 2011, after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, a series of surges cost $20 million of damage in the shelter.

“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,” Snider said. “I hope that elevates the importance and severity for our citizens.”

He said the groups already slamming ashore in Hawaii were just under the criteria for a more serious tsunami warning.

“The important thing here is the first wave may not be the largest. We could see this play out for several hours,” he additional. “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-pushed sea groups.”

Residents of American Samoa were alerted of the tsunami warning by local broadcasters in addition 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 center canceled 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 groups. The Japan Meteorological Agency said there may be a slight swelling of the water along the coast, but it was not expected to cause any damage.

Tonga’s Islands Business news site reported that a convoy of police and military troops evacuated King Tupou VI from his palace near the shore. He was among the many residents who headed for higher ground.

Earlier, the Matangi Tonga news site reported that scientists observed enormous explosions, thunder and lightning near the volcano after it started erupting early Friday. Satellite images showed a 5-kilometer (3 mile) -wide plume rising into the air to about 20 kilometers (12 miles).

More than 2,300 kilometers (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 uncommon currents and unpredictable surges at the shore following a large volcanic eruption.”

New Zealand’s private forecaster Weather Watch tweeted that people as far away as Southland, the country’s southernmost vicinity, reported hearing sonic booms from the eruption. Others reported that many boats were damaged by a tsunami that hit a marina in Whangarei, in the Northland vicinity.

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

There is not a meaningful difference between volcanoes underwater and on land, and underwater volcanoes become bigger as they erupt, at some point usually breaching the surface, said Hans Schwaiger, a research geophysicist with the Alaska Volcano Observatory.

With underwater volcanoes, however, the water can add to the explosivity of the eruption as it hits the lava, Schwaiger additional.

Before an explosion, there is generally an increase in small local earthquakes at the volcano, but depending on how far it is from land, that may not be felt by residents along the shoreline, Schwaiger said.

In 2019, Tonga lost internet access for nearly two weeks when the same fiber-optic cable was severed . The director of the local cable company said at the time that a large ship may have cut the cable by dragging an keep up in a place. Until limited satellite access was restored people couldn’t already make international calls.



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