Satellite images capture moment Tonga volcano erupts
VIDEO SHOWS: SATELLITE PHOTOS IN SEQUENCE BY COOPERATIVE INSTITUTE FOR RESEARCH IN THE ATMOSPHERE (CIRA) AND NOAA SHOWING A WHITE PLUME OVER TONGA AT AROUND 0410GMT WHEN HUNGA TONGA-HUNGA HA’APAI, UNDERWATER VOLCANO ERUPTED
An underwater volcano off Tonga erupted on Saturday (January 15), triggering a tsunami warning for several South Pacific island nations, with footage on social media showing waves crashing into homes.
Tsunami waves were observed in Tonga’s capital and the capital of American Samoa, a U.S.-based tsunami monitor said.
The eruption at 0410 GMT of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai underwater volcano, located about 65 km (40 miles) north of Nuku’alofa, caused a 1.2-meter tsunami Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said.
The agency said it continued to monitor the situation but no tsunami threat had been issued to the Australian mainland, islands or territories.
Tsunami waves of 2.7 feet (83 cm) were observed by gauges at the Tongan capital of Nuku’alofa and waves of 2 ft at Pago Pago, the capital of American Samoa, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.
Fiji issued a tsunami warning, urging residents to avoid the shorelines “due to strong currents and dangerous waves.”
The U.S.-based monitor later canceled the warning for the U.S. territory of American Samoa.
Tsunami waves measuring 2 feet in height were observed by sea-level gauges at the capital of the U.S. territory of American Samoa following volcanic activity in Tonga, the U.S. monitor said.
The tsunami threat continues and sea-level fluctuations and strong ocean currents pose hazards along beaches in harbors, it said.
New Zealand’s emergency management agency issued an advisory on tsunami activity for its north and east coasts, with the areas expected to experience strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges at the shore.
On Friday (January 14), the volcano sent ash, steam and gas up to 20 km (12 miles) into the air, Tonga Geological Services said in a Facebook post. It has a radius of 260 km (160 miles).