An earthquake of magnitude 8.2 hit 256 km (157 miles) southeast of Chiniak, Alaska at a depth of 10 km at 9:31 GMT on Tuesday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The quake sparked a tsunami warning for parts of Alaska, Canada, and a tsunami watch for the entire U.S. west coast, the U.S. Tsunami Warning System said.
“Based on all available data a tsunami may have been generated by this earthquake that could be destructive on coastal areas even far from the epicenter,” the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.
“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,” the Anchorage Office of Emergency Management said in a warning for Alaska and British Columbia, the Globe and Mail reported.
“Based on all available data … hazardous tsunami waves are forecast for some coasts,” a tsunami threat message issued at 10:17 UTC on Tuesday, Jan. 23 stated.
“The forecast based on the earthquake mechanism shows no threat for areas of the Pacific covered by this product. We are waiting for sea level data to confirm this forecast,” the warning continues.
“Tsunami waves are forecast to be less than 0.3 meters above the tide level for the coasts of:
Guam… Hawaii… Japan… Johnston Atoll… Mexico… Midway Island… Northern Marianas… Northwestern Hawaiian Islands… Russia… and Wake Island.”
The warning states that forecasts have not yet been calculated for other areas affected by the earthquake, but will be made available to the public once they’ve been computed.
The Tsunami Warning System recommends government agencies responsible for threatened coastal areas “inform and instruct any coastal populations at risk in accordance with their own evaluation, procedures, and the level of threat.”
Individuals located in threatened coastal areas should stay alert for information and follow instructions from national and local authorities.
The Tsunami Warning System says that a tsunami is a series of waves, not a single occurrence, and the threat may continue for some time after the initial wave hits.
“The time between wave crests can vary from 5 minutes to an hour and the hazard may persist for many hours or longer after the initial wave.
“Impacts can vary significantly from one section of coast to the next due to local bathymetry and the shape and elevation of the shoreline.
“Impacts can also vary depending upon the state of the tide at the time of the maximum tsunami waves.”
The system strongly cautions that anyone caught in the water of a tsunami may drown, or be crushed by debris in the water or be swept out to sea.