Tsunami advisory canceled for most SoCal beaches after undersea volcano erupts in South Pacific

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Sunday, January 16, 2022
Volcano erupts in Pacific; tsunami advisory issued for SoCal beaches
A tsunami advisory was issued for Southern California beaches after an underwater volcano erupted near the island nation of Tonga in the South Pacific.

A tsunami advisory, prompted by an underwater volcano eruption near the island nation of Tonga in the South Pacific, was canceled Saturday night for most Southern California coastal areas.

The advisory was lifted for Los Angeles, Ventura and Orange counties, according to the National Weather Service, but remained in effect for San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.

The advisory had prompted the closure of all Orange County beaches, but it was unclear how soon beaches would be reopened, except Huntington Beach.

The National Weather Service says the tsunami surge came in a one-foot swell between 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., but it did cause some strong currents. The biggest concern had been centered around coastal communities, harbors and ports as the wave surge arrived at high tide, but experts say our location is one of the biggest protections.

"Los Angeles is one of the best situated sites on the Pacific Rim in the sense that the really biggest earthquake sources tend to point away from us and therefore we don't get as big a tsunami," said seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones.

However, she did call it the largest tsunami she has ever seen stemming from a volcanic eruption.

The volcano erupted in spectacular fashion, sending large tsunami waves crashing across the shore and people rushing to higher ground. The tsunami advisory was also in effect for Hawaii and Alaska.

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There were no immediate reports of injuries or the extent of the damage as communications with the small island nation remained cut off hours after the eruption.

In Hawaii, Alaska and along the U.S. Pacific coast, residents were asked to move away from the coastline to higher ground and pay attention to specific instructions from their local emergency management officials, said Dave Snider, tsunami warning coordinator for the National Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska.

"We don't issue an advisory for this length of coastline as we've done - I'm not sure when the last time was - but it really isn't an everyday experience," he said. "I hope that elevates the importance and severity for our citizens."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.