Tsunami warnings in Alaska canceled after state hit with 7.8 earthquake

Tsunami warnings in Alaska canceled after state hit with 7.8 earthquake
The USGS says the since-canceled tsunami warning went into place after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit about 61 miles from Perryville, Alaska, at 10:13 p.m. local time. (Source: KTUU/Gray News)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU/Gray News) - The tsunami advisories for Alaska, issued after an earthquake of magnitude 7.8 hit the state, have been canceled by the National Tsunami Warning Center.

All tsunami advisories for the state were dropped after a wave of less than 30 centimeters was recorded in Sand Point, the first area the tsunami was forecast to hit, according to Dr. James Gridley, director of the tsunami warning center.

Areas that were predicted to see a wave are still expected to see one, but Gridley estimates the waves will be less than 30 centimeters.

“We’ve canceled the advisories because it doesn’t look like it’s becoming a large wave or any larger, and we are monitoring everything within the warning area to determine exactly what we should do in our next message,” Gridley said.

The tsunami warnings went into place for areas 75 miles south of Chignik after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit about 61 miles from Perryville at 10:13 p.m. local time.

Jeremy Zidek, Div. of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said no one would really know until the waves started to hit communities how damaging they could be.

The National Weather Service had tsunami warnings in effect for south Alaska and the Alaska Peninsula, including Pacific coasts from Kennedy Entrance to Unimak Pass.

A tsunami warning was also in place for the Aleutian Islands from Unimak Pass to Samalga Pass.

NWS advised those in an area with a tsunami warning or advisory in effect should go to higher ground and stay away from the water, including beaches, harbors and inlets. They also recommended following guidance from local officials and waiting until emergency officials say it is safe to return to the coast.

NWS says a tsunami warning impact can look very different from place to place. The potential impact ranges from “damaging waves” to “strong and unusual currents.”

Tsunami advisory areas can also vary in the impact caused by a tsunami. The range includes strong waves that could “drown or injure people” or appear like a “frothy wall of water.”

Copyright 2020 KTUU via Gray Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Beth Verge contributed to this report.