Tsunami swell triggered by undersea volcanic eruption damages docks, sets boats adrift in SoCal

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Monday, January 17, 2022
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Although there wasn't any major damage caused by a tsunami surge that was triggered by an underwater volcano eruption in the South Pacific Saturday, some Southern California coastal areas definitely saw its effects.

VENTURA, Calif. (KABC) -- Although there wasn't any major damage caused by a tsunami surge that was triggered by an underwater volcano eruption in the South Pacific Saturday, some Southern California coastal areas definitely saw its effects.

In Ventura, the strong tsunami swells ripped through a harbor and took several boats with it.

"It was a 6-foot tide in 30 minutes... At first I thought everything just floated back into place but the docks sustained quite a bit of damage," said Dale Eagle.

A harbor patrol boat was one of the casualties as the current and the tide took over.

"The tide was so strong, it hopped up the back of our deck and flooded the back deck," said John Higgins, the Ventura Harbor Master. "The weight of the water, along with the pressure from the current, caused our boat to flip over at the dock and capsize."

A tsunami advisory that was issued Saturday for the entire U.S. West Coast has since been lifted, but the underwater eruption in the South Pacific triggered a tsunami that hit the island nation of Tonga. The swells and waves continued across the ocean, creating a dangerous current.

The extent of the damage that Tonga experienced was not immediately clear, but a massive ash cloud is covering the island and the internet is down.

Locally, the surge smashed a dock in Marina del Rey and set several boats adrift.

"A 40 or 50-foot sailboat in the dock, and another sailboat were all ripped loose from the water and they were floating into my yacht club and into my friend's boat," said Anthony Lojac.

Several Southern California beaches were closed Saturday, but have since reopened.