U.S. West Coast and Hawaii are under a tsunami advisory : NPR

This image, taken by Himawari-8, a Japanese weather satellite, shows a submarine volcanic eruption in the Pacific Ocean, Tonga.

Japan Meteorology Agency via AP

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Japan Meteorology Agency via AP

This image, taken by Himawari-8, a Japanese weather satellite, shows a submarine volcanic eruption in the Pacific Ocean, Tonga.

Japan Meteorology Agency via AP

A massive underwater volcano that erupted just before sunset Friday sent meters-high waves against the shores of the Pacific island of Tonga, triggering tsunami advisories from Australia to Canada, including the US west coast.

Plumes from the explosion reached more than 12 miles above sea level, according to the Tonga Geological Services. At its widest, the ash-steam cloud reached about 150 miles in diameter, making it easy to see from satellites.

In Tonga, home to 105,000 people, the extent of the injuries and damage caused was still largely unknown. Communications were disrupted for hours, according to the Associated Press.

According to Radio New Zealand, waves washed over parts of the capital Nuku’alofa – just 40 miles from the eruption site – including parts of the Royal Palace grounds.

On Twitter, a Tongan native named Faka’iloatonga Taumoefolau posted a video on Saturday with meters high waves that washed over a road to houses.

The activity of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano continued through Saturday morning with another less powerful eruption lasting 10 to 15 minutes, according to the Tonga Geological Service.

Geologists saw huge explosions and lightning during the eruption

Taaniela Kula, an official with the Ministry of Land and Natural Resources, told the Matangi Tonga news website that geologists had observed massive explosions and lightning during the eruption.

“Yesterday was a big day indeed! It was great to get out during the peak times of the volcano. It’s a geologist’s dream to see actual geological events in motion,” he said.

Ash from the eruption could contaminate drinking water, the Tonga government warned. Residents were advised to cover water reservoirs and check their roofs for ash before reconnecting stormwater systems.

After the eruption late Friday, authorities from countries across the Pacific have issued tsunami warnings and advisories from Fiji and Samoa to as far away as Australia and Canada’s British Columbia.

New Zealand officials warned of “unpredictable waves” on the north and east coasts of the North Island. In Australia, a marine threat advisory warned that “dangerous cracks, waves and strong ocean currents” were possible Saturday night.

The Japan Meteorological Agency warned of a major tsunami wave expected to reach a height of three meters in the Amami and Tokara Islands, two archipelagos south of the country’s four largest islands. Elsewhere along the country’s southeast coast, waves are expected to reach as high as three feet.

Tsunami waves felt from Hawaii to US west coast

Hawaii was the first state to feel the effects of the eruption waves over a foot were reported in Kauai and nearly three feet high in Hanalei. “We are relieved that no damage has been reported and that there is only minor flooding on the islands,” said the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

Waves hit the western shore of the continental US on Saturday morning. The National Weather Service issued a tsunami advisory for the entire west coast and the entire south coast of Alaska, including the Aleutian Islands, warning that strong currents and waves were expected — but not the “significant flooding” of a full-fledged tsunami warning.

Authorities prepared early Saturday for the possibility of a small but potentially disruptive wave. Beaches were cleared from San Diego to San Francisco. More than 100 people have been evacuated from the boats, docks and shoreline of the Berkeley Marina, according to news site Berkleyside.

In a tweet, the NWS’s San Diego office warned of “strong currents that are dangerous to swimmers, boats and coastal structures.” Residents were advised to move away from the beach and marinas.

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