Tonga: Tsunami advisory in effect for US as waves hit Pacific island following volcanic eruption - CNN

Via:  Gsquared  •  4 months ago  •  15 comments

By:   Alex Stambaugh, Laura Smith-Spark, Rhea Mogul and Sophie Jeong (CNN)

Tonga: Tsunami advisory in effect for US as waves hit Pacific island following volcanic eruption - CNN
A tsunami has hit Tonga's largest island, Tongatapu, and reportedly sent waves flooding into the capital after an underwater volcano in the South Pacific exploded in a violent eruption on Saturday, sending a cloud of ash and gas steam into the air.

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I recommend following the link to the article because the satellite video of the volcanic explosion is amazing.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

A tsunami has hit Tonga's largest island, Tongatapu, and reportedly sent waves flooding into the capital after an underwater volcano in the South Pacific exploded in a violent eruption on Saturday, sending a cloud of ash and gas steam into the air.

A tsunami warning has been issued for the islands of Tonga and parts of Japan. Tsunami advisories have also been issued for New Zealand's North Island and the west coast of the United States from California to Alaska, as well as Canada's British Columbia.

Satellite imagery shows a massive ash cloud and shockwaves spreading from the eruption.

Waves crossed the shoreline of Tonga's capital, Nuku'alofa, on Saturday, flowing onto coastal roads and flooding properties, according to CNN affiliate Radio New Zealand (RNZ).

Tonga's King Tupou VI was evacuated from the Royal Palace after the tsunami flooded the capital, RNZ reported, citing local media reports that a convoy of police and troops rushed the monarch to a villa at Mata Ki Eua.

Residents headed for higher ground, RNZ said, as waves swept the palace grounds, waterfront and main street. A tsunami has hit Tonga's largest island, Tongatapu.

Ash was falling from the sky in Nuku'alofa on Saturday evening and phone connections were down, RNZ said.

The Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai volcano first erupted Friday, sending a plume of ash 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) into the air, according to RNZ.

A second eruption hit on Saturday at 5:26 p.m. local time, RNZ reported.

Australia's Bureau of Meteorology said it recorded a tsunami wave of 1.2 meters (about 4 feet) near Nuku'alofa at 5:30 p.m. local time on Saturday.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said tsunami waves of 2.7 feet (83 cm) were observed by gauges at Nuku'alofa and waves of 2 feet at Pago Pago, the capital of American Samoa, Reuters reported.

Jese Tuisinu, a television reporter at Fiji One, posted a video on Twitter showing large waves washing ashore, with people trying to escape the incoming water in their vehicles. "It is literally dark in parts of Tonga and people are rushing to safety following the eruption," he said in another tweet.

The volcano is located about 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) southeast of Tonga's Fonuafo'ou island, according to RNZ, and about 65 kilometers (40 miles) north of Nuku'alofa.

In addition to the tsunami warning, Tonga's Meteorological Services issued advisories for heavy rain, flash flooding and strong winds in lands and coastal waters.

The nearby island of Fiji also issued a public advisory asking people living in low lying coastal areas to "move to safety in anticipation of the strong currents and dangerous waves."

A tsunami advisory is also in effect for the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, according to its National Disaster Management Office, with residents advised to move away from the coastline and seek higher ground.

A tsunami watch is in effect for all Samoan low-lying coastal areas, the Samoa Meteorological Service said, with residents and visitors advised to stay away from beach areas.

Japan's Meteorological Agency has issued a tsunami warning for the southern Amami island and Tokara island chain in Kagoshima Prefecture and a tsunami advisory for all coastal areas facing the Pacific Ocean, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported. "A three-meter tsunami is expected to reach Japan following an undersea volcanic eruption off the Pacific nation of Tonga," NHK said.

Warning for US

A tsunami advisory is now in effect for the US west coast including the states of California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska, according to the NWS National Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning tweeted that no damage was reported thus far from the tsunami observed in the Hawaiian Islands.

"A tsunami is currently being observed by all Islands' Emergency Management. We are relieved that there is no reported damage and only minor flooding throughout the islands," the agency tweeted.

Adam Weintraub, communications director for the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, told CNN that while the island had seen some water in low-lying areas, there were no reports of loss of life or any "noteworthy damage" from the tsunami. He did not specify what areas experience the minor flooding.

The impacts were the equivalent of a "high King Tide," Weintraub said. "There is some flooding in parking lots and harbor areas, but it was nuisance flooding," Weintraub said, adding that the EMA was keeping an eye on any developments.

"We have seen the wave moving through the Hawaiian Islands," Dave Snider, tsunami warning coordinator at the center in NWS National Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, told CNN.

Current observations are that the wave is one-to-two feet high heading toward the US mainland Pacific Coast. The estimated arrival time along the California coast was 7 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. Pacific Time.

Speaking by telephone, Snider noted: "We don't have a really good forecast because this event is based on a volcano rather than earthquake."

Snider notes this is currently an advisory, and not a tsunami warning, in effect for the US west coast.

Nonetheless, the National Weather Service Seattle urged caution along the US Pacific Coast on Saturday. "Move off the beach and out of harbors and marinas in these areas," NWS Seattle tweeted.

"Strong currents and larger waves are possible along these coastal areas. The first wave may not be largest," the agency went on to warn, adding that larger waves may continue to hit the coast for hours after the initial wave.

"Continue to stay out of the water and away from shore along the coastal areas and continue to monitor for updates," the agency said.

New Zealand on alert

A tsunami advisory was also issued for coastal areas on the north and east coast of New Zealand's North Island and the Chatham Islands, where "strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges at the shore" were expected, according to New Zealand's National Emergency Management Agency.

New Zealand's official weather service said its weather stations across the country had observed "a pressure surge" on Saturday evening from the eruption. 

Scientist Emily Lane, of New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, told the New Zealand Science Media Centre that it was a "very significant" eruption.

"The shock wave from it is clearly visible in satellite imagery and there are reports of the eruption being heard at least as far away as New Zealand," she said. "The tsunami from the eruption has reached over 2,500 km being recorded on gauges over all of Aotearoa."

Tsunamis generated by volcanoes are much less common than tsunamis from underwater earthquakes, Lane said.

A smaller eruption in late 2014/early 2015 built up the crater of the volcano to above the surface of the water, Lane added, but it's not yet clear exactly how Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai erupted on this occasion. "When we see what is left of the island after this eruption is over we can start to put together the pieces of what happened," she said.

Professor Shane Cronin, from the School of Environment at University of Auckland, told the New Zealand Science Media Centre that research into historical eruptions by the same volcano suggested that the current eruption episode could last for weeks or months "and that further similar-sized eruptions to the 15 January 2022 event are possible."

"The eruption is likely to result in significant ash fall (cm to ten cm) in Tongatapu as well as the Ha'apai group of islands," he said. "Help will be needed to restore drinking water supplies. People of Tonga must also remain vigilant for further eruptions and especially tsunami with short notice and should avoid low lying areas."

An earlier tsunami warning issued for American Samoa has since been canceled, according to the NWS Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

There is no tsunami threat to Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands from a "distant eruption," according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

The volcano had been active from December 20, but was declared dormant on January 11, according to RNZ.


jrGroupDiscuss - desc
Junior Principal
1  seeder  Gsquared    4 months ago

I spent a week on Tongatapu many years ago.  It was a great place.  The article mentions residents fleeing to higher ground, but it is a flat island with no hills.  The main town, Nuku'alofa, is right on the water, so probably the whole town got flooded.

Pointing out one error in the article, Fiji is not an island.  Fiji is a country made up of many islands.

This is a photo from the article showing the flood waters from the tsunami along the coast.


Professor Principal
2  JohnRussell    4 months ago

It will be interesting to see if anything unusual occurs along the US west coast. Right now they are predicting 1-3 ft waves will hit the shores. 

Paula Bartholomew
Professor Guide
2.1  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  JohnRussell @2    4 months ago

According to my local news (L.A. area), we are on watch for it.  Hopefully boat owners will hoist them out if they can to avoid possible damage.

Junior Principal
2.1.1  seeder  Gsquared  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @2.1    4 months ago

I just saw a video on the news of some of the tsunami's effects on Santa Cruz, which is in central California near Monterey.

Paula Bartholomew
Professor Guide
2.1.2  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Gsquared @2.1.1    4 months ago

Santa Cruz had been hit once before catching them off guard.  Lots of boats were damaged or destroyed.  Hopefully they were able to do something this time before it hit.

Junior Principal
2.1.3  seeder  Gsquared  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @2.1.2    4 months ago

The video from Santa Cruz didn't look too bad.  I don't think they had any damage.

Sophomore Participates
2.1.4  shona1  replied to  Gsquared @2.1.3    4 months ago

Morning nothing drastic has happened over here either.. closed some beaches and now waiting for the all clear.

Tonga will have a lot of damage and possible of three young boys at the beach clowning around and taunting the waves... until it hit land and they were knocked off their feet and disappeared into the churning water. Was a good metre deep rushing inland.

I don't think there is going to be a good outcome for them..

Junior Principal
2.1.5  seeder  Gsquared  replied to  shona1 @2.1.4    4 months ago

I am very sorry to hear about that.  That is sad.

Professor Principal
2.1.6  Ender  replied to  shona1 @2.1.4    4 months ago

I think I saw that or one similar. Young man was punching a banana tree and the wave hit. Several were knocked off their feet.

I also saw a vid of some kids that heard the sonic boom from it. It was loud.

Sophomore Participates
2.1.7  shona1  replied to  Ender @2.1.6    4 months ago

Yes I think that is the idea what happened to them...hope they are ok..

Ash from the volcano has reached Queensland now probably go around the World like others have...

Certainly looking very grim for Tonga though...

Professor Principal
2.1.8  Ender  replied to  shona1 @2.1.7    4 months ago

This is the one with the sonic boom.

Professor Principal
3  Kavika     4 months ago

Amazing video of the volcano exploding. Tonga is beautiful having spent a lot of time there on business and also on holiday hopefully the damage is limited. 

Junior Principal
3.1  seeder  Gsquared  replied to  Kavika @3    4 months ago

Tonga is beautiful and very interesting.  It's the only place I've ever been where the country was actually controlled by a King.   There are also 33 nobles, one of whom I met.  I'm not certain, but I think they have devolved more power to the citizenry since I was there. 

Sophomore Participates
4  shona1    4 months ago

Reports coming in here at the moment there has been a second explosion of the volcano near Tonga.

If that is the case it will just about wipe Tonga off the map..

NZ and us have sent out four planes to see what is happening, but certainly not looking very good over there at the moment..

Junior Principal
4.1  seeder  Gsquared  replied to  shona1 @4    4 months ago

That is very seriously bad news.


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