Tsunami warning for the California coast; beaches are closed and big waves are expected

A tsunami warning was in effect for the California coast on Saturday morning due to the eruption of a volcano near Tonga in the Pacific.

Several beaches and marinas from Orange County to the Bay Area were temporarily closed as a precaution due to higher-than-normal waves, officials said. Officials urged people to stay out of the water and away from shore.

Kristan Lund, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard, said “we’re advising people to stay out of the water and off the beaches.”

He said the warning was “quite unusual” because it was due to a volcanic eruption and not an undersea earthquake, and because it extended to the entire western coast. The entire coastline was at risk, he said, including parts of islands far from the volcano, such as Avalon Harbor.

The tide can “rise a lot around the island and can also bounce off shorelines,” he said. As of 8:30 a.m., the San Luis Harbor in San Luis Obispo County was seeing a storm surge of just over a foot, he said.

The National Weather Service said tsunami activity was expected to reach Monterey around 7:30 a.m. and San Francisco around 8:10 a.m. Southern California beaches were expected to see impacts as early as 7:50 a.m. Many beaches and piers were closed. Berkeley closed its marina and urged people to seek higher ground.

“If you are in this coastal area,” the NWS said, “stay away from the beach and harbors and marinas. Do not go near the coast to observe the tsunami. Please watch for instructions from your local emergency officials.”

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department said in an advisory that while no major flooding was expected, the tsunami could produce dangerous currents and tidal surges throughout the day that would make it dangerous to enter the water. Strong currents were expected in harbors and bays for several hours.

Los Angeles County officials issued the following warning for coastal areas:

Get out of the water, off the beach and away from harbors, marinas, breakwaters, bays and inlets.

Do not go near the coast to observe the tsunami.

Do not return to shore until told by local emergency officials that it is safe.

Officials said some coastal areas could see waves 1 to 2 feet high. “The main impacts are expected to be strong rip currents, coastal flooding and possible flooding of low-lying areas. Head to higher ground,” the NWS said.

The tsunami was caused by the eruption of an underwater volcano on Saturday. The tsunami triggered alerts across wide areas of the Pacific, including Hawaii and the West Coast.

In Hawaii, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reported waves reaching ashore from one foot at Nawiliwili, Kauai, in Hawaii, to 2.7 feet at Hanalei. “We are relieved that no damage has been reported and there has been only minor flooding across all islands,” the center said in describing the situation in Hawaii.

In Tonga, a video posted on social media showed large waves reaching coastal areas and swirling around homes and buildings.

In Hawaii, Alaska, and along the Pacific coast of the United States, residents were asked to move away from the shoreline to higher ground and to heed specific instructions from their local emergency management officials, said Dave Snider, tsunami warning coordinator for the National Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska.

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