SAN DIEGO — An undersea volcano erupted near the Pacific nation of Tonga on Saturday, prompting a tsunami advisory for California, Hawaii and Alaska along with the rest of the U.S. Pacific coast.
Waves were expected to arrive in San Diego around 7:50 a.m. Saturday at a size of only 1 to 2 feet, but officials still urged residents not to head to the water. “Widespread inundation,” meaning significant flooding, was not anticipated in the region, according to the National Weather Service.
“A Tsunami Advisory has been issued for the U.S. West Coast, including San Diego County and Orange County,” the San Diego office of the NWS“A tsunami capable of producing strong currents hazardous to swimmers, boats, and coastal structures is expected.”
The NWS told people to move off of the beach and out of harbors and marinas, if they were starting their morning on the water.
“Do not go to the coast to watch the tsunami,” the NWS added. “Be alert for instructions from your local emergency management officials.”
As the Associated Press reports, the volcano erupted in spectacular fashion and sent large tsunami waves crashing across the shore in Tonga, where people rushed to higher ground. 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 Center reported waves slamming ashore from half a meter (a foot) 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, video posted to social media showed large waves washing ashore in coastal areas, swirling around homes and buildings.
New Zealand’s military said it was monitoring the situation and remained on standby, ready to assist if asked.
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