7.7 quake hits Canadian island in Pacific; tsunami advisory issued

7.7 quake hits Canadian island in Pacific; tsunami advisory issued

The National Weather Service reported that the tsunami advisory was canceled for southern Oregon and northern California at around 4:45 a.m. Sunday PST.


A tsunami ADVISORY is issued when: Another area in the region is under a tsunami warning. it means there could be an ocean surge capable of producing strong currents or waves dangerous to people in or near the water.


VANCOUVER, British Columbia  - A magnitude 7.7 earthquake struck off the west coast of Canada and a tsunami warning was issued for parts of the coastline in Alaska and Canada, authorities said Saturday night.  It was later downgraded to an advisory for Southeast Alaska and Northern British Columbia. There were no immediate reports of damage.

Late Saturday night NOAA expanded the tsunami advisory to include the coasts of Northern California and Southern Oregon. According to NOAA, the added area under advisory extended from 80 miles northwest of San Francisco to 10 miles southwest of Florence, Ore.

A tsunami warning was then issued for Hawaii at 10:10 p.m. (PST), initially stating that "a tsunami has been generated that could cause damage along the coastline of all islands in the state". After a few hours that warning was also downgraded to an advisory. No major damage was reported to the islands, however all Hawaiian state beaches and harbors are still closed.

By around 4:45 a.m. Sunday (PST) the advisory had been canceled for The Oregon and California regions.

Officials from Coos County, Oregon said that they have recorded less than a 6" change in water level since the advisory was issued for Southern Oregon beaches. 

They added that the advisory basically means that people should stay out of the coastal waters and there may be some damage in harbors and marinas.

 


Magnitude 7.7 quake strikes off Canadian coast - Jeremy Hainsworth,Associated Press

 


VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — A magnitude 7.7 earthquake struck off the west coast of Canada, but there were no reports of major damage. Residents in parts of British Columbia were evacuated, but the province appeared to escape the biggest quake in Canada since 1949 largely unscathed.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the powerful temblor hit the Queen Charlotte Islands just after 8 p.m. local time Saturday at a depth of about 3 miles (5 kilometers) and was centered 96 miles (155 kilometers) south of Masset, British Columbia. It was felt across a wide area in British Columbia, both on its Pacific islands and on the mainland.

"It looks like the damage and the risk are at a very low level," said Shirley Bond, British Columbia's minister responsible for emergency management said. "We're certainly grateful."

The National Weather Service issued a tsunami warning for coastal areas of British Columbia, southern Alaska and Hawaii, but later canceled it for the first two and downgraded it to an advisory for Hawaii.

Gerard Fryer, a senior geologist with the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, said the first waves hitting shore in Hawaii are smaller than expected.

The weather service also canceled a tsunami advisory for Oregon, leaving northern California as the only spot in North America still under a tsunami advisory.

Dennis Sinnott of the Canadian Institute of Ocean Science said a 69-centimeter (27 inch) wave was recorded off Langara Island on the northeast tip of Haida Gwaii, formerly called the Queen Charlotte Islands. The islands are home to about 5,000 people, many of them members of the Haida aboriginal group. Another 55 centimeter (21 inch) wave hit Winter Harbour on the northeast coast of Vancouver Island.

"It appears to be settling down," he said. "It does not mean we won't get another small wave coming through."

Canada's largest earthquake since 1700 was an 8.1 magnitude quake on August 22, 1949 off the coast of British Columbia, according to the Canadian government's Natural Resources website. It occurred on the Queen Charlotte Fault in what the department called Canada's equivalent of the San Andreas Fault — the boundary between the Pacific and North American plates that runs underwater along the west coast of the Haida Gwaii.

In 1970 a 7.4 magnitude quake struck south of the Haida Gwaii.

The USGS said the temblor shook the waters around British Columbia and was followed by a 5.8 magnitude aftershock after several minutes. Several other aftershocks were reported.

The quake struck 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of Sandspit, British Columbia, on the Haida Gwaii archipelago. People in coastal areas were advised to move to higher ground.

Urs Thomas, operator of the Golden Spruce hotel in Port Clements said there was no warning before everything began moving inside and outside the hotel. He said it lasted about three minutes.

"It was a pretty good shock," Thomas, 59, said. "I looked at my boat outside. It was rocking. Everything was moving. My truck was moving."

After the initial jolt, Thomas began to check the hotel.

"The fixtures and everything were still swinging," he said. "I had some picture frames coming down."

Lenore Lawrence, a resident of Queen Charlotte City on the Haida Gwaii, said the quake was "definitely scary," adding she wondered if "this could be the big one." She said the shaking lasted more than a minute. While several things fell off her mantle and broke, she said damage in her home was minimal.

Many on the B.C. mainland said the same.

"I was sitting at my desk on my computer and everything just started to move. It was maybe 20 seconds," said Joan Girbav, manager of Pacific Inn in Prince Rupert, British Columbia. "It's very scary. I've lived here all my life and I've never felt that."

Residents rushed out of their homes in Tofino, British Columbia on Vancouver Island when the tsunami sirens sounded, but they were allowed to return about two hours after the quake.

_____

Associated Press writers Mark Thiessen in Alaska and Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.


Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

 


Tsunami warning in Hawaii downgraded to advisory 

Mark Thiessen and Oskar Garcia, Associated Press


HONOLULU (AP) — A Hawaii tsunami warning that spurred coastal evacuations statewide was downgraded to a tsunami advisory early Sunday, ending the threat of serious damage less than three hours after the first waves hit the islands.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie said early Sunday that the Aloha State was lucky to avoid more severe surges after a powerful earthquake struck off the coast of Canada.

Abercrombie said beaches and harbors are still closed statewide.

"We're very, very grateful that we can go home tonight counting our blessings," Abercrombie said.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service canceled tsunami advisories for Canada and Oregon, leaving northern California as the only spot in North America still under a tsunami advisory.

The first waves hitting Hawaii on Saturday night were smaller than expected.

Gerard Fryer, a geologist tracking the tsunami for the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, said the largest wave in the first 45 minutes of the tsunami was measured in Maui at more than 5 feet, about 2 feet higher than normal sea levels.

No major damage was reported.

At first, officials said Hawaii wasn't in any danger of a tsunami after the 7.7-magnitude earthquake rattled the western coast of North America Saturday night, sparking tsunami warnings for southern Alaska and western Canada.

Later, officials issued a warning for Hawaii as well, saying there had been a change in sea readings. About the same time, a tsunami advisory was issued for a 450-mile stretch of U.S. coast running from north of San Francisco to central Oregon.

A small tsunami created by the quake was barely noticeable in Craig, Alaska, where the first wave or surge was recorded Saturday night.

Fryer said it could take several hours for the danger to pass in Hawaii, especially if the waves get bigger.

"It's beginning to look like the evacuation may not have been necessary," Fryer said.

The National Weather Service said there were reports of water quickly receding in bays, including Hilo Bay on the Big Island.

The warning in Hawaii spurred residents to stock up on essentials at gas stations and grocery stores and sent tourists in beachside hotels to higher floors in their buildings. Bus service into Waikiki was cut off an hour before the first waves, and police in downtown Honolulu shut down a Halloween block party.

Abercrombie proclaimed an emergency, mobilizing extra safety measures.

While television traffic cameras showed onlookers at the beach in Waikiki, Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle warned people to stay away from the surf for several days.

Carlisle — who recommended people think about ditching their cars if they were in traffic — said people should be cautious.

"There's no reason to panic but there's every reason to take all of the necessary precautions," he said.

Coast Guard officials closed all harbors in the state to incoming boats and urged vessels to leave and not return until an all-clear is given.

"We don't have any reports of any tsunami impacts at this time, but we caution mariners because the tsunami surges can continue for several hours," Chief Warrant Officer Gene Maestas said.

In Kauai, three schools used as evacuation centers quickly filled to capacity.

As many people along Hawaii's coasts rushed to higher ground, officials downgraded a tsunami warning to an advisory for southern Alaska and British Columbia. They also issued an advisory for areas of northern California and southern Oregon.

In Alaska, the wave or surge was recorded at 4 inches, much smaller than forecast, said Jeremy Zidek, a spokesman for the Alaska Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake hit in the Queen Charlotte Islands area. The quake was felt in Craig and other southeast Alaska communities, but Zidek said there were no immediate reports of damage.

The West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center issued a warning for coastal areas of southeast Alaska, down the western Canadian coast to the tip of Vancouver Island.

Later Saturday evening, the warning for those areas was downgraded to an advisory, while a warning was issued for Hawaii.

In addition, officials issued an advisory for areas from Gualala Point, Calif., about 80 miles northwest of San Francisco, to the Douglas-Lane county line in Oregon, about 10 miles southwest of Florence.

The Del Norte County Sheriff's Department, based in Crescent City, Calif., near the Oregon line, said it hadn't heard of any problems as a result of the tsunami. Crescent City was one of the U.S. towns hit hardest by last year's tsunami from the Japan quake, with boats in the harbor suffering serious damage.

By early Sunday morning, all warnings and advisories for coastal areas of North American had been canceled, except for a stretch of California coast beginning 80 miles north of San Francisco and stretching to the Oregon line, which remained under an advisory.

A tsunami warning means an area is likely to be hit by a wave, while an advisory means there may be strong currents, but that widespread inundation is not expected to occur.

Fryer said it's not surprising that an earthquake so far away could generate dangerous waves in Hawaii.

"There is nothing between Canada and us that would scatter the energy, so once the beam is formed, it just points right at us," Fryer said.

The U.S. Coast Guard in Alaska said it was warning warn everyone with a boat on the water to prepare for a potential tsunami.

The first wave hit Craig about two hours after the earthquake.

"It started off where it might be a 3-foot wave, and it kept getting downgraded," Craig Mayor Dennis Watson said. "And the last time we heard, it was less than 1 foot."

It actually was recorded at 4 inches. Watson said he was downtown on the waterfront, and had his car lights shining on pylons.

"I didn't even see the surge. I watched the pylons. And the tides came in about four or five inches. The surge would leave a wet spot as it would go back out, and we never did see that," he said.

There could be subsequent waves in Craig, but an official with the tsunami warning center didn't think it would amount to much.

The first wave "typically is not the largest but nevertheless we don't expect the maximum wave height to be large," said Bill Knight.

The state Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management activated its emergency operations center and notified officials in southeast Alaska communities.

Lt. Bernard Auth of the Juneau Command Center said the Coast Guard was also working with local authorities to alert people in coastal towns to take precautions.

Lucy Jones, a USGS seismologist, said the earthquake likely would not generate a large tsunami.

"This isn't that big of an earthquake on tsunami scales," she said. "The really big tsunamis are usually up in the high 8s and 9s."

She said the earthquake occurred along a "fairly long" fault - "a plate 200 kilometers long" in a subduction zone, where one plate slips underneath another. Such quakes lift the sea floor and tend to cause tsunamis, she said.

In Craig, officials implement an emergency plan, and took fire trucks, ambulances and heavy equipment to higher ground.

"If nothing else it was a good exercise in determining how well our disaster plan works. I thought it came off quite well, really," he said.

Watson said he did receive calls from townspeople about the tsunami.

"There's supposed to be a big Halloween party downtown. People are calling, 'Did the wave hit yet so we can go to the party?'" he said.

___

Mark Thiessen reported from Anchorage, Alaska. AP reporter Chris Weber in Los Angeles contributed to this report. Oskar Garcia can be reached on Twitter.


Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

 

 


Below are earlier press releases from the Associated Press on both the earthquake and tsunami warning/advisory.


ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The U.S. Coast Guard is warning people in far southern Alaska to take precautions after a tsunami warning was issued for coastal areas of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.

The warning was sparked by a strong earthquake Saturday night that shook off the west coast of Canada.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the 7.7-magnitude earthquake hit in the Queen Charlotte Islands area, followed by a 5.8-magnitude aftershock several minutes later.

The National Weather Service has issued a warning for coastal areas of southern Alaska, Northern California, Oregon and Washington state. It says the warning area includes Craig and Sitka, Alaska.

The U.S. Coast Guard in Alaska says it's trying to warn everyone with a boat on the water to prepare for a potential tsunami.

Lt. Bernard Auth of the Juneau Command Center says the Coast Guard is also working with local authorities to alert people in coastal towns to take precautions.
___________

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.  (Released at 10:22 p.m., PST)


ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Coastal areas of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest are under a tsunami warning after a strong earthquake shook an island off the west coast of Canada.

The U.S. Geological Survey says a 7.7-magnitude earthquake shook the Queen Charlotte Islands area on Saturday night, followed by a 5.8-magnitude aftershock several minutes later.

The National Weather Service has issued a warning for coastal areas of southern Alaska, Northern California, Oregon and Washington state. It says the warning area includes Craig and Sitka, Alaska.

The U.S. Coast Guard in Alaska says it's trying to warn everyone with a boat on the water to prepare for a potential tsunami.

Lt. Bernard Auth of the Juneau Command Center says the Coast Guard is also working with local authorities to alert people in coastal towns to take precautions.
___________

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. (Released at 9:45 p.m., PST)

 


Magnitude-7.7 quake strikes off western Canada

GOLDEN, Colorado (AP) — A magnitude-7.7 earthquake has struck off the coast of western Canada and a tsunami warning has been issued. There are no immediate reports of damage.

The U.S. Geological Survey in Colorado says the quake hit the Queen Charlotte Islands at 11:14 p.m. Sunday local time (0314 GMT) and was centered 96 miles (155 kilometers) south of Masset, British Columbia.

The National Weather Service has issued a warning for coastal areas of British Columbia, southern Alaska, Northern California, Oregon and Washington state. It says the warning area includes Craig and Sitka, Alaska

The USGS says the 7.7-magnitude quake shook the area and was then followed by a 5.8-magnitude aftershock several minutes later.

.___________

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. (Released just before 9 p.m., PST)