UPDATE: Authorities have lifted all tsunami advisories, after fears of devastating waves have been defused. “A tsunami was generated by this event, but no longer poses a threat,” a message from the United States National read just after 4 a.m. local time.
A massive 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck approximately 175 miles (300 km) off the coast of Alaska. A tsunami warning has been issued and locals are advised to steer off the coast, evacuate low lying areas, and seek refuge in higher areas.
A #tsunami warning is in effect for the outer coast of SE #Alaska. First waves may arrive around 2:00 AM, according to Tsunami Warning Center. Further updates may be found at https://t.co/FIgKd7XW5Y or via NOAA wx radio. #akwx
— NWS Juneau (@NWSJuneau) January 23, 2018
There was no immediate report of damage, though the shake was felt as far as Anchorage (Alaska’s biggest city), hundreds of miles away. In Kodiak, Alaska, sirens are going off and people are knocking door to door asking residents to evacuate due to the risk of a tsunami.
The United States National Tsunami Warning Center said that the first place likely to be hit would be Kodiak, Alaska, at 1:45 a.m.
Police knocking on doors in Kodiak, sirens going off. People heading to higher ground.
Homer Spit and boat launch being evacuated.
Road out of Seward is packed. Line at gas station huge. People headed north to Bear Creek.
— Jeff Landfield (@JeffLandfield) January 23, 2018
A buoy from the National Weather Service reported a water displacement of 32 feet (9.7 meters). Although the waves are likely to go down significantly by the time they reach the coast, there is still a serious, widespread tsunami hazard. The National Weather Service also estimates that the first waves should arrive before 2 a.m. local time.
“Evacuate inland or to higher ground above and beyond designated tsunami hazard zones or move to an upper floor of a multi-story building depending on your situation,” the authorities warned on tsunami.gov. “Move out of the water, off the beach, and away from harbors, marinas, breakwaters, bays and inlets.”
It’s also not just Alaska — Hawaii and the Oregon, California and Washington coasts are also under a tsunami watch. A tsunami could hit Tofino, British Columbia, on the Vancouver Island.
Tue Jan 23 10:07:47 UTC 2018 event picture pic.twitter.com/qeKKqFTysB
— NWS Tsunami Alerts (@NWS_NTWC) January 23, 2018
The earthquake epicenter lies south-east of Kodiak, and the depth is estimated at 10 km, making it a shallow (near-surface) earthquake. Near-surface earthquakes are more likely to cause damage and tsunamis as the surface waves they bring carry along more energy. Deeper earthquakes stifle some of that energy.
Authorities will issue regular updates on the situation. We will keep you posted as new information emerges.
In 2011, a 9.1 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Japan sent waves as high as 40 meters onto Tōhoku’s Iwate Prefecture. The waves traveled up to 10 km (6 mi) inland.