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Volcano eruption triggers tsunami advisories along entire West Coast

Saturday, January 15th 2022, 2:23 pm - People in coastal areas that are at risk along the West Coast are advised to stay away from the shoreline and heed instructions from local authorities.

The explosive eruption of an undersea volcano set off a 5.8-magnitude earthquake near Tonga Saturday, powerful enough to trigger tsunami advisories for the entire North American West Coast including British Columbia.

The eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai underwater volcano, situated about 65 km, north of Nuku'alofa, generated a 1.2-metre tsunami, Australia's Bureau of Meteorology said. It elicited an earthquake that registered at a 5.8 magnitude.

RELATED: Tsunami observed in American Samoa after Tonga volcano erupts

Shockwaves from the eruption made their way across the entire globe and the sound was heard as far away as Alaska.

Earthquake Tonga

Tsunami waves were recorded in Tonga's capital and the capital of American Samoa, according to a U.S.-based tsunami monitor. There have been reports of rocks falling from the sky.

As a result, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) issued tsunami advisories for much of B.C.'s coastal regions. People in coastal areas that are at risk are advised to stay away from the shoreline and heed instructions from local authorities.

"There is a possibility of strong localized currents. No significant inundation is expected, but low-lying coastal areas and beaches may be at risk. A tsunami is a series of waves. The first wave may not be the largest," the advisory from ECCC reads.

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In the U.S., the mainland tsunami advisory extends from California's border with Mexico to Attu Island at the tip of Alaska's Aleutian Islands.

It was reported that Hawaii, which has now been dropped from the tsunami advisories, was already seeing tsunami waves of up to 0.82 metres, with accounts of boats being lifted out of the water onto docks, but no inundation cited. High waves were also spotted in Alaska, and are expected to hit the Oregon and southern Washington coast shortly.

In Tonga, video was captured of tsunami waves hitting shore and people higher ground.

The large eruption was seen from space and verified to be the cause of the tsunami, which swept through buildings, fences, roads and cars in Tonga not long after it occurred.

With files from Reuters.

Thumbnail courtesy of NOAA/NESDIS Regional and Mesoscale Meteorology Branch (RAMMB)/Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA).

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