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A tsunami has struck the West Coast of the United States after a massive undersea volcanic eruption triggered a 7.4 magnitude earthquake near Tonga
‘A tsunami is occurring. Remember – the first wave may not be the largest. Move away from the shore and head to high ground,’ the National Weather Service said in a flash bulletin on Saturday.
‘If you are located in this coastal area, move off the beach and out of harbors and marinas. Do not go to the coast to watch the tsunami. Be alert to instructions from your local emergency officials,’ the agency warned.
Waves of up to 4.1 feet were recorded in Port San Luis, and tsunami-effect waves were recorded along the coast in California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska.
Despite the dire warnings, spectators flocked to the beaches to view the surging tsunami waves, and surfers threw caution to the wind to catch the powerful waves generated by the surge.
The initial tsunami wave hit Los Angeles around 7.45am PST and San Francisco at 8.10am PST, and was expected to last for several hours.
In Santa Cruz, video showed significant flooding near the harbor, with at least one vehicle caught in the surge.
The tsunami advisory in Hawaii was cancelled shortly after 8am local time, after the surge passed through the area damaging some docked boats. There were no early reports of casualties from the islands.
Officials said widespread inundation is not expected, but rather coastal hazards such as rip currents and dangerous waves in harbors. Authorities caution that the first waves to strike may not be the highest waves experienced in an area.
‘West Coast residents be prepared for impacts in bays and harbors. Liveaboards seek shelter and high ground,’ the NWS said in an alert.