Updated Jan 15, 2022 - Science

Tsunami advisory issued for U.S. West Coast after Tonga volcano erupts

This satellite image taken by Himawari-8, a Japanese weather satellite, and released by the agency, shows an undersea volcano eruption at the Pacific nation of Tonga Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022
This satellite image taken by Himawari-8, a Japanese weather satellite, and released by the agency, shows an undersea volcano eruption on Jan. 15. Photo: Japan Meteorology Agency via AP

An undersea volcanic eruption near the Pacific nation of Tonga triggered a tsunami warning across the islands and for some parts of Japan on Saturday, AP reports.

The big picture: Tsunami advisories have also been issued for the West Coast of the United States — spanning from the Oregon and California border to the California and Mexico border — and Hawaii, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

The latest: The shockwaves extended to Colorado in one direction and through the United Kingdom, as well, according to data monitored via the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

  • There were no immediate reports of injuries or death and the full extent of the damage remains unknown due to spotty communication with Tongatapu, the largest island, per AP.

State of play: The Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai volcano first erupted Friday, sending a plume of ash 12.4 miles into the air, Radio New Zealand reports.

  • There was a second eruption on Saturday at 5:26 p.m. local time, per RNZ.
  • It is the latest in a series of eruptions of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haʻapai volcano, which is about 40 miles north of the capital.
  • Tonga's King Tupou VI was evacuated from the Royal Palace after the tsunami flooded the capital Nuku'alofa, per RNZ.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Andrew Freedman: Meteorologists are viewing the satellite images of the eruption with awe, as it looks like a nuclear explosion with shockwaves rippling out in all directions.

  • Air pressure readings in New Zealand and as far away as Alaska have shown evidence of these shockwaves. Small tsunami waves raced outward in all directions, coming ashore in Hawaii Saturday morning.

Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout based on the most recent tsunami advisories.

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