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Tsunami Advisory Issued for West Coast and Hawaii After Undersea Volcano Erupts in Pacific

Large waves swept the shores of Tonga, while those reaching Southern California measured one to three feet

The National Tsunami Warning Center announced a tsunami advisory for the West Coast of the United States and Hawaii Saturday after an undersea volcano erupted, sending huge waves crashing onto the shores of the Pacific nation of Tonga.

Waves were expected to reach one to two feet on the shores of La Jolla and San Diego at 7:50 a.m. PT this morning, but The National Weather Service warned of the strong current a tsunami is capable of producing, thus being “hazardous to swimmers, boats, and coastal structures.” Therefore, it urges West Coast residents to leave the beach immediately and to refrain from attempting to watch the tsunami. California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska are all subject to the advisory.

The NWS also stated that waves are expected to arrive in pulses throughout the day.

The waves in Tonga swelled to much greater heights due to its proximity to the volcanic eruption, which meteorologist and atmospheric scientist Matthew Cappucci called, “Perhaps the most violent, explosive volcanic eruption ever observed on satellite.”

Alongside a satellite image of the eruption, he tweeted: “Plumes to 100,000 feet, an outward explosion of gravity waves, an enormous mass of pyrocumulonimbus/volcanic thunderstorms, tens of thousands of lightning strikes, a tsunami… wow.”

Social media videos showed waves rushing in and around buildings and homes as residents scrambled to get to higher ground. According to NBC San Diego 7, there are no immediate reports of injuries or damage while communications with the island nation are down.

CNN reported that King Tupou VI of Tonga was evacuated from the Royal Palace¬†after flooding reached the nation’s capital, Nuku’alofa. Tonga’s population is approximately 105,000 people.

Elsewhere, waves reached just under three feet in Hawaii. Warnings have also been issued for the island nations of Fiji and Samoa, while New Zealand and parts of Japan are under advisory.

As of 10:03 a.m. PT, the tsunami advisory for Hawaii has been cancelled, but advisories remain in place for Alaska and the rest of the U.S. West Coast.