A massive underwater volcano erupted in the South Pacific, sending a tsunami towards the island nation of Tonga. The Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai first erupted on Friday (January 14) night and then erupted a second time on Saturday, creating a plume of smoke and ash over 12 miles high with a radius of 160 miles.
Tonga’s King Tupou VI had to be evacuated from the Royal Palace as the tsunami waves flooded the capital city of Nuku’alofa. In addition to the flooding, Tonga residents had to deal with heavy ash and smoke from the eruption.
The National Weather Service in Honolulu shared a dramatic satellite video of the volcano erupting on Twitter.
The violent eruption resulted in tsunami warnings and evacuations in Japan and other islands throughout the region. Tsunami advisories were also issued up and down the western coasts of North, and South America, and the first waves have already made their way to the United States.
Authorities urged anybody living along coastal areas should evacuate and seek higher ground. In Berkeley, California, officials ordered a mandatory evacuation of the marina area, warning that waves up three feet were possible.
A tsunami wave made landfall in Hawaii but caused only minor flooding.
“There is some flooding in parking lots and harbor areas, but it was nuisance flooding,” Adam Weintraub, communications director for the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, told CNN, comparing it to a “high King Tide.”
Alex Patricia shared a video of a tsunami wave washing ashore in Neskowin, Oregon.