Kodiakans woke up Saturday morning to a flurry of text messages from friends and family, wondering if they were all right in the wake of a seismic event that happened over 6,000 miles away from The Rock.
Everything was fine as residents went about their Saturday routines, some attending youth swimming and hockey events and others enjoying the brilliant sunshine glistening off the recently fallen snow.
A spectacular undersea volcanic explosion near the Pacific nation of Tonga triggered tsunami warnings and advisories in Hawaii, Alaska and the Pacific coast. The eruption happened at 7:26 p.m. AKT on Friday.
Shortly after the eruption of the volcano, named Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai, the Kodiak Emergency Operations Center was monitoring Kodiak’s waterfront. The tsunami sirens were not activated.
“No water is expected to come inland here, and no evacuation is advised at this time. We are monitoring the harbors for strong currents. Please avoid the shore,” The EOC posted on its Facebook page.
EOC posted its final update at 8:40 a.m.
“No water movement has been observed in the Kodiak harbors. No further updates unless the situation changes,” the EOC said.
That wasn’t the case around Alaska. King Cove recorded the largest wave at 3.3 feet, while Sand Point (1.6 feet), Adak (1.5 feet), Nikolski (1.2), Atka (1.0), Unalaska (0.9), St. Paul (0.8) and Sitka (0.7) also saw an increase in water levels. According to the National Tsunami Warning Center, Port Luis, California, recorded a wave of 4.3 feet — the biggest in Alaska, British Columbia, and the US West Coast. A 4-foot tsunami wave was reported to have hit Tonga’s capital, Nuku’alofa.
Residents in Alaska took to social media about blasts they heard early Saturday morning. According to the National Weather Service, the sonic booms were shockwaves from the eruption.
“I heard the booming sounds in Akhiok, at around 4 a.m., with the ground shaking a tiny bit,” Teacon Simenoff posted on Facebook. “It was so calm here, I just thought it was waves breaking out at the cape.”
David Fee, a research professor at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Fairbanks and a scientist with the Alaska Volcano Observatory, told the Anchorage Daily News hearing sound from an eruption 6,000 miles away is a rare phenomenon.
“When I looked at the data this morning, it was pointing back at that volcano,” he told the ADN. “You know, it’s thousands of miles away, but it just kind of helps us pinpoint where it’s coming from.”