Tsunami advisory issued for U.S. West Coast after undersea volcanic eruption near Tonga

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A tsunami advisory has been issued for Hawaii and parts of the U.S. Pacific coast after an undersea volcano erupted in spectacular fashion near Tonga on Saturday.

California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and the Canadian province of British Columbia could all be affected, the National Tsunami Warning Center said in a bulletin.

Residents living near beaches, harbors, marinas and other coastal areas should move away from the shore and make their way inland or uphill, the bulletin added.

The Berkeley Fire Department in California ordered a “mandatory evacuation” of the marina area Saturday morning, warning of waves up to 3 feet by 7:30 a.m. local time.

In San Francisco, authorities are urging people who are on a beach, harbor, marina dock or pier to “not self-evacuate.” Instead, they should call 911 for evacuation assistance, since “strong, dangerous currents” are expected to impact these areas starting at 8:10 a.m. local time, “and may last for many hours,” the city’s Department of Emergency Management said in a statement.

In a tsunami advisory issued across coastal cities in Orange County, authorities said that while “no significant coastal flooding is expected, some areas could experience dangerous currents and tidal surges.”

“The impact of this tsunami will be stronger than normal currents and possible higher than normal tidal surges along the beaches,” the Orange County tsunami advisory reads.

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A similar advisory was also issued for San Diego County.

In Hawaii, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reported waves slamming ashore from a foot in Nawiliwili, Kauai, to 2.7 feet in Hanalei.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reported that “wave amplitude is decreasing, but remains potentially hazardous along Hawaii’s coasts,” according to Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency.

“Remember that a tsunami isn’t likely to look like a classic ‘breaking wave;’ it’s more of a massive surge of water that can rise quickly and with great power,” the agency tweeted.

The advisories were issued after Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupted near Tonga early Saturday, sending strong waves crashing onto its main island, Tongatapu.

The eruption lasted 10 to 15 minutes and threw ash plumes over 8 miles high, according to the Tonga Geological Services.

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

Tsunami advisory warnings have also been issued for parts of Japan near the Pacific Ocean, including the Amami and Tokara Islands, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

Scientists observed massive explosions, thunder and lightning near the volcano after it started erupting early Friday, the Matangi Tonga news site reported.

It was the latest in a series of eruptions seen in the region since early Friday.

More than 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 country could expect “strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges at the shore.”

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

Tsunami advisory warnings have also been issued for parts of Australia where waves several feet high have been observed on Norfolk Islands off the country’s east coast.

Large waves have also been observed in Vanuatu and other South Pacific nations.

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