Tuesday 23 January 2018

Massive 8.2 magnitude quake in Alaska sparks tsunami warnings across US

The earthquake struck 157 miles southeast of Chiniak, Alaska at a depth of 6.2 miles at 9.31 GMT, the US Geological Survey said

A HUGE 8.2-magnitude earthquake off the coast of Alaska sparked tsunami warnings down the whole West Coast of the US and Canada today.

Residents in coastal towns close to the epicentre were woken in the night by warning sirens and urged to flee their homes for ground at least 100ft above sea level amid warnings of an “extraordinary threat to life”.

The 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck out at sea in the Gulf of Alaska

British Columbia in Canada, along with Washington, Oregon, California and Hawaii were all put on tsunami watch – with San Franciscans told to prepare for a possible evacuation – although they have now been stood down.

And a tsunami warning for Alaska has now been downgraded – although locals who had fled were warned not to return home until the all-clear could be given.

Residents living close to the epicentre of the quake spoke of being woken in the dead of night by warning sirens.

Tsunami alarms rang out out across Kodiak, located about 157 miles north-west of where the tremor struck, prompting a massive evacuation.

What we know so far:
  • An earthquake of 8.2 magnitude struck off the coast of Alaska at 9.30am GMT
  • The quake triggered tsunami alerts along the whole US West Coast
  • Residents living near the epicentre were woken by warning sirens in the dead of night
  • Locals in towns like Kodiak were urged to flee their homes and head for higher ground at least 100ft above sea level
  • A buoy out at sea near the epicentre detected a 32ft wave soon after the tremor
  • Tsunami watches for British Columbia in Canada, along with Washington, Oregon, California and Hawaii have been cancelled
  • A tsunami warning for Alaska has been downgraded, although residents were told not to return to their homes until the all-clear had been given

Locals were seen fleeing the city in their cars as authorities ordered them to head to higher ground after a 32ft wave was detected out at sea.

Kodiak cop Sgt Beaver told social media users in the town: “This is not a drill, this is a tsunami warning. Everybody get at least 100ft above sea level.”

The Anchorage Office of Emergency Management warned those living in coastal areas of Alaska and British Columbia: "If you are located in this coastal area, move inland to higher ground.

"Tsunami warnings mean that a tsunami with significant inundation is possible or is already occurring.

"Tsunamis are a series of waves dangerous many hours after initial arrival time. The first wave may not be the largest."

This advice was earlier issued to people in the warning areas

Authorities sent out text message warnings urging people to flee to high ground

This chart explains the difference between tsunami watches and warnings
Meanwhile, Alaskans took to social media to tell of their terror at being forced to flee their homes in the night.

One Twitter user wrote: “Tsunami sirens going off in Kodiak after the earthquake, I usually only ever hear the weekly siren test at 2pm on Wednesdays so hearing it at 1am on Tuesday is actually terrifying!!”

Residents of Anchorage - Alaska's largest city located around 500 miles from the epicentre - said they were alerted to it by text messages.

"Shook the house pretty good and just kept going. Hope the people down south are alright."

Shaun Dyess wrote: "I’m here in anchorage Alaska. It was shaking for along time. Hope no one got hurt."

And JoLynn Lund tweeted: The #earthquake was enough to wake you. The #tsunami alert alarm gets you out of bed."

A map shows the estimated times a wave would take to reach different regions
Alaska Governor Bill Walker said: “We are closely monitoring the earthquake and tsunami warnings affecting many coastal communities this morning.

“I have been in contact with local officials, resident, and Major General Hummel and will remain in close communication with them throughout the day.

“Please heed local warnings to move inland or to higher ground.

“My thanks to first responders and media outlets across the state for going beyond the call of duty to keep Alaskans safe.”

What happens next?
People close to the epicentre of the quake were ordered to flee their homes and head to higher ground at least 100ft above sea level.

In Alaska, people packed into high schools and other evacuation centres after the quake hit shortly after midnight local time (9am GMT).

People have been asked to remain there and refrain from returning to their homes until the all-clear is given.

Has this happened before?
The infamous Good Friday Earthquake which hit Alaska in 1964 sparked numerous tsunamis inflicting heavy damage on Kodiak, along with Valdez, Whittier and Seward.

Anchorage – the biggest city in Alaska – was hit by multiple landslides, destroying city blocks and neighbourhoods.

An estimated 139 people were killed, most by tsunamis – including 16 deaths in Oregon and California.

(Source: The Sun)

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