Updated: January 16, 2022 1:21:46 pm
The tsunami threat over countries, including New Zealand and even in parts of the U.S., after an underwater volcano erupted in the Pacific Island nation of Tonga on Saturday, has passed.
Tsunami advisories issued for Japan and Hawaii, Alaska and the U.S. Pacific coast were lifted, the Associated Press reported.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) said Sunday the threat had receded but coastal areas should remain alert for strong or unusual currents.
Satellite images showed the spectacular eruption that took place Saturday evening, with a plume of ash, steam and gas rising like a mushroom above the blue Pacific waters.
The footage captured the moment of the eruption, pushing ash, steam and gas 20 kilometres into the air. A sonic boom could be heard as far away as Alaska, AP reported.
High-resolution Himawari satellite imagery of the #HungaTongaHungaHaapai volcanic eruption in Tonga 🌋
Our climate stations recorded a brief spike in air pressure as the atmospheric shock wave pulsed across New Zealand. pic.twitter.com/BfLzdq6i57
— NIWA Weather (@NiwaWeather) January 15, 2022
GOES satellite imagery captured the eruption of an underwater volcano near Tonga in the Pacific Ocean early this morning. This eruption has caused a tsunami across portions coastal Alaska and California. pic.twitter.com/C4Os9U6UIa
— NWS Gray (@NWSGray) January 15, 2022
Depictions of the eruption and its aftermath were picked up by weather satellites in the region.
The most spectacular – which also showed the outline of Australia more than 2,000 miles away – came from Himawari-8, operated by the Japan Meteorological Agency pic.twitter.com/A6gucJV492
— The Sunday Times (@thesundaytimes) January 15, 2022
On Saturday, the underwater volcano Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haʻapai erupted after the region witnessed heavy rainfall, thunder and lightning. Social media was flooded with videos and photos showing high waves crashing into the shores in the capital, Nuku’alofa, filling streets with knee-deep waters.
This is the moment tsunami waves crash into Tonga, after an underwater volcano erupted earlier on Saturday.
— 1News (@1NewsNZ) January 15, 2022
According to 10 News First, this volcanic eruption was seven times more powerful than its predecessor on December 20 last year.
Tonga’s Hunga Tonga volcano just had one of the most violent volcano eruptions ever captured on satellite. pic.twitter.com/M2D2j52gNn
— US StormWatch (@US_Stormwatch) January 15, 2022
Tonga Meteorological Services issued a tsunami warning for the whole of Tonga just after 5.30pm on Saturday, RNZ reported. “Phone connections are down and it’s been difficult for people to get through. The eruption, between 5:20 pm and 5:28 pm, caused windows to rattle, houses to shake and ash was in the wind,” the news outlet added.
According to the New Zealand Herald, there were reports of sirens ringing across Nuku’alofa and police asking people to move to higher ground.
“A volcanic explosion just erupted and people have evacuated to higher ground now from possible tsunami waves also ash shards are falling and now the ash clouds are covering the island of Tongatapu,” the report quoted a local resident as saying.
It is literally dark in parts of Tonga and people are rushing to safety following the eruption. 🇹🇴 pic.twitter.com/7NoP0y9GCo
— Jese Tuisinu (@JTuisinu) January 15, 2022
“We’re still in shock to be honest, first we heard the explosion, and then water was in our house,” a local told The Stuff. Although his family was safe but was worried about what the night would bring. “Hopefully we’re out of this now, and there aren’t any more waves. Right now we’re just staying put, we’ve got our phones and radio on, for any updates.”
Raining ash and tiny pebbles, darkness blanketing the sky. pic.twitter.com/hAaiWATYKE
— Dr Faka’iloatonga Taumoefolau (@sakakimoana) January 15, 2022
This family were in church. They’d just finish having choir practice and the tsunami hit 😩❤️🇹🇴 pic.twitter.com/DLLFRJ9BAc
— KNOWKNEE (@JohnnyTeisi) January 15, 2022
So my dads from Eua and this is where the wharf is out front and luckily my dad lives right up on the hill just behind all of these guys . Man honestly watching this vid its so sad 😞 prayers for Tonga 🇹🇴. #Tonga 🇹🇴 pic.twitter.com/PkFMeJLllP
— Big Poppa (@Biggieology) January 15, 2022
More than 2,300km (1,400 miles) away in New Zealand, officials were warning of storm surges from the eruption. The National Emergency Management Agency said some parts of New Zealand could expect “strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges at the shore following a large volcanic eruption.”
However, the tsunami warning for American Samoa was cancelled on Saturday. Minor sea level fluctuations may continue,
NWS PTWC tweeted.
Around 5pm today in Ravitaki village, Fiji. Capturing the sound of volcano eruption from Tonga
vc:- Ana Naisoro pic.twitter.com/yfKR0VKIB9
— 🇫🇯The Ratu Seru🇫🇯 (@MrCombs679) January 15, 2022
Fiji Meteorological Service, too, issued a warning, urging “public in low-lying coastal areas advised to MOVE TO SAFETY in anticipation of STRONG CURRENT & DANGEROUS WAVES”. It also warned locals not to go to beaches.
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