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Volcanic eruption in the Pacific Ocean caused a tsunami: the western part of the United States is in danger

The tsunami hit the largest island of the Polynesian Kingdom of Tonga, Tongatapu, causing a wave of flooding. This happened after an underwater volcano exploded during a strong eruption in the South Pacific Ocean, throwing a cloud of ash and gas vapor into the air. Writes about it CNN.

Photo: Shutterstock

A tsunami warning has been issued not only for the islands of Tonga, but also for the North Island of New Zealand, the west coast of the United States from California to Alaska, and also for British Columbia in Canada.

Satellite imagery shows a massive ash cloud and shock waves propagating from the eruption.

Waves crossed the coastline of the Kingdom's capital, Nuku'alofa, on Saturday, January 15, rolling onto coastal roads and flooding buildings.

King Tupou VI of Tonga was evacuated from the royal palace after a tsunami flooded the capital. A convoy of police and military delivered the monarch to a villa in Mata Ki Eua.

Residents headed for higher ground as waves swept over the palace grounds, the embankment, and the main street.

On the evening of January 15, ash fell from the sky in Nuku'alofa, and telephone communications were interrupted.

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The Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Haapai volcano erupted for the first time on Friday, January 14, throwing a 20-kilometer plume of ash into the air.

The second eruption occurred on January 15 at 17:26 local time.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology said it had recorded a 1,2-metre (about 4 feet) high tsunami wave near Nuku'alofa.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reported that tsunami waves as high as 2,7 feet (83 cm) were observed by instruments at Nuku'alofa and waves as high as 2 feet (60 cm) originated in Pago Pago, the capital of American Samoa.

Jese Tuisinu, TV reporter for Fiji One, tweeted a video showing big waves coming ashore as people try to escape the oncoming water in their cars.

“Parts of Tonga are literally dark and people are rushing to safety after the eruption,” he wrote in another tweet.

According to the RNZ, the volcano is located about 30 kilometers (18,6 miles) southeast of Fonuafou Island in Tonga and about 65 kilometers (40 miles) north of Nuku'alofa.

In addition to the tsunami warning, the Kingdom of Tonga Meteorological Service issued warnings for heavy rain, flash floods and strong winds on land and in coastal areas.

Authorities on the neighboring island of Fiji have also issued a warning asking people living in low-lying coastal areas to "go to safety in anticipation of strong currents and dangerous waves."

Among other things, a tsunami warning is in place for the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, according to the National Disaster Management Authority, and residents are advised to move away from the coastline and seek higher ground.

The Samoa Meteorological Service said all low-lying coastal areas of the state are monitored for tsunamis, so residents and visitors are advised to stay away from beach areas.

US Warning

According to the NWS National Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska, a tsunami warning is currently in effect for the US West Coast, including the states of California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska.

So far, no damage has been recorded from the tsunami observed in the Hawaiian Islands.

“The All Islands Emergency Management is currently monitoring the tsunami. We are pleased that there are no reports of damage on the islands other than minor flooding,” the agency wrote on Twitter.

“We saw the wave move through the Hawaiian Islands,” said Dave Snyder, tsunami warning coordinator at the NWS National Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer.

Speaking on the phone, Snyder said: "We don't have a really accurate forecast because this event is based on a volcanic eruption, not an earthquake."

Snyder notes that the warning is currently advisory.

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However, the National Weather Service of Seattle (Washington) called for safety precautions.

"Move away from the beach, harbors and marinas in these areas," NWS Seattle tweeted.

“Strong currents and larger waves are possible along these coastal areas. The first of them may not be the largest, ”the agency noted and explained that larger waves can hit the coast within a few hours after the initial wave.

"Keep clear of water and shore along coastal areas, stay tuned," the post reads.

New Zealand alert

A tsunami warning has also been issued for coastal areas on the north and east coasts of New Zealand's North Island and the Chatham Islands, where "strong and unusual currents and unpredictable tides" are expected, according to New Zealand's National Emergency Management Agency.

New Zealand's official weather service said its weather stations across the country observed a "pressure spike" on January 15 as a result of the eruption.

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

“The shock wave from it is clearly visible on satellite images. There are reports that the eruption can be heard at great distances, she said. “The tsunami from the eruption reached over 2500 km and is being recorded by sensors all over Aotearoa.”

Tsunamis from volcanoes are much rarer than tsunamis from underwater earthquakes, Lane said.

A smaller eruption, according to Lane, in late 2014 and early 2015 caused the volcano's crater to rise above the surface of the water, but it is not yet clear how exactly the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Haapai eruption occurred in this case.

“When we see what is left of the island after this eruption ends, we can start to piece together what happened,” she said.

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Professor Shane Cronin of the University of Auckland's School of the Environment told the New Zealand Science Media Center that studies of historical eruptions from the same volcano have shown that the current eruption episode could last weeks or months, "and that further eruptions of a similar magnitude are possible."

“The eruption is likely to result in significant ash fall in Tongatapu as well as the Ha'apai Islands,” he said. - Assistance will be needed to restore drinking water supplies. The people of Tonga must remain vigilant for the coming eruptions and especially the tsunami. They should avoid low-lying areas."

According to the NWS Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, a tsunami warning previously issued for American Samoa has been cancelled. There is no tsunami threat to Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands from a "distant eruption".

The volcano has been active since December 20, and on January 11 it was declared calm.

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