Alaska Tsunami Warning Canceled After Powerful 7.8 Quake

July 22, 2020 Updated: July 22, 2020

A powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck off the southeast coast of the Alaskan peninsula late Tuesday, sparking a tsunami warning that was quickly called off some 2 hours after the quake.

The U.S. National Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami warning for South Alaska and the Alaska Peninsula, Pacific Coasts from Kennedy Entrance, Alaska to Unimak Pass, Alaska, following the quake that struck at 10:12 p.m. local time.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the earthquake was at a depth of 17 miles (28 kilometers), deeper than an early estimate of 6 miles (10 kilometers).

The tsunami warning for the region was called off early Wednesday, some 2 hours after the earthquake struck.

“We’ve canceled the advisories because it doesn’t look like it’s becoming a large wave or any larger,” NOAA’s National Tsunami Warning Center Director Dr. James Gridley told KTUU. “We are monitoring everything within the warning area to determine exactly what we should do in our next message.”

Before it was called off, the U.S. Tsunami Warning System predicted that Sand Point could be hit at 11:15 p.m. local time, and Cold Bay at 12:15 a.m. local time, with “hazardous waves” along coasts within 185 miles (300 kilometers) of the quake’s epicenter.

“Persons caught in the water of a tsunami may drown, be crushed by debris in the water, or be swept out to sea,” the tsunami warning said.

Video footage posted on social media showed wailing sirens as the tsunami warning was issued to residents, urging them to get to “higher ground.”

“If you are in a tsunami warning area, evacuate inland or to higher ground above and beyond designated tsunami hazard zones or move to an upper floor of a multi-story building depending on your situation,” the tsunami warning read.

“Move out of the water, off the beach, and away from harbors, marinas, breakwaters, bays, and inlets. Be alert to and follow instructions from your local emergency officials because they may have more detailed of specific information for your location.”

Epoch Times Photo
A map showing the location of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake south-southeast of Perryville, Alaska, on July 22, 2020. (USGS)

A local high school and a Catholic school on Kodiak Island opened its doors for residents following orders to evacuate, reported the Anchorage Daily News. Masks were handed out to evacuees, the news outlet reported.

“We’ve got a high school full of people,” said Larry LeDoux, superintendent of the Kodiak School District. “I’ve been passing out masks since the first siren sounded.”

“Everything’s as calm as can be. We’ve got probably 300, 400 people all wearing masks.”

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there had been no threat to other U.S. and Canadian Pacific coasts in North America.

NOAA’s National Tsunami Warning Center said early Wednesday that some areas may continue to see small sea level changes. It also urged residents not to return to hazard zones until instructed by local officials.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.