West Coast US under tsunami advisory following volcanic eruption

Le Voir N. Lewis

An undersea volcano in the Pacific Ocean has triggered tsunami warnings on the West Coast and in Alaska.

The undersea volcano eruption near the Pacific nation of Tonga sent large waves crashing across the shore and people rushing above ground.Japan Meteorology Agency via AP

A tsunami advisory has been put in place in areas of the West Coast after a volcanic eruption in the Pacific Ocean, off of the island of Tongatapu.

The advisory effects the coastlines of California, Oregon, Washington state, and extending to Alaska.

The Pacific nation of Tonga has been under a tsunami warning since the undersea Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano began erupting Saturday morning.

While there are "no tsunami observations are available to report" on the West Coast or in Alaska currently, the U.S. Tsunami Warning System will continue to update every 30 minutes. Heavy impacts are expected in certain parts of Hawaii.

"Tsunami waves that can be a hazard to swimmers and boaters as well as to persons near the shore at beaches and in harbors and marinas are now affecting the state of Hawaii," said the National Tsunami Warning Center in an alert, noting that the "hazard could continue for several hours."

What are the signs of a tsunami?

Signs of a tsunami tend to vary but there are a few things to be on the lookout for. The National Tsunami Warning Center advises being aware of your surroundings and keeping an eye out for any quick or rapid changes, including the following:

  • A rapidly receding or receded shoreline
  • Unusual waves and sounds
  • Strong currents

A tsunami may also appear as water moving quickly out to sea, as a gentle rising tide with no breaking wave, as a series of breaking waves, or as a frothy wall of water, according to the center. Tremors of an earthquake can also precede a tsunami.

What should be done during a tsunami advisory?

According to the National Tsunami Warning Center, there are some simple things one under a tsunami advisory can do to reduce the risk to human life and property.

The center recommends moving away from water, including harbors, marinas, breakwaters, bays and inlets. Stay off the beach entirely.

Be aware of your surroundings. Keep an eye out for instructions from local emergency officials who may have more detailed or specific information, and if you feel a strong earthquake or extended ground rolling, move inland and uphill as quickly as possible.

Anyone at sea during a tsunami advisory should avoid entering shallow water.

While the impact of a tsunami can vary, strong waves and currents can drown or injure people in the water or close to shore. Currents in unexpected places like at harbors or in marinas, may be especially dangerous. Waves can last between five and 45 minutes, according to the National Tsunami Warning Center, and coasts in all directions may be threatened because of the movement of the water.

Please be sure to check the U.S. Tsunami Warning System frequently for news releases, or CWarn.org. CWarn.org is a global tsunami warning and alert system. Registration and membership is free, allowing the system to send notifications to your mobile phone.

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