By Fred Barbash and Brian Murphy
A tsunami warning was lifted Tuesday for a stretch of Pacific Coast from Washington to Alaska after a major undersea earthquake hit southeast of Kodiak, according to the National Weather Service. Officials in some coastal areas had urged people to seek higher ground.
The U.S. Geologic Survey gave a preliminary magnitude of 7.9. The National Weather Service put the magnitude at 8.2. The quake was located about 175 miles southeast of Kodiak in the Gulf of Alaska at a depth of about 6.2 miles at about 12:30 a.m. Alaska time.
There were no reports of significant ocean surges after the expected time the first effects could reach Alaskan shores. Later, the National Weather Service in Juneau said the warning was lifted from the Washington border, British Columbia and up to Alaska’s Hinchinbrook Entrance, a seaway southeast of Anchorage. It remained in effect to the west, including Kodiak.
NWS Juneau tweeted “The #tsunami warning is canceled for the coastal areas of British Columbia and #Alaska from WA/BC border to Hinchinbrook Entrance, AK, per JTWC. A tsunami was generated but does not pose a threat to these areas.”
In Kodiak, police department said water levels had receded in the harbor. A sharp withdrawal of water can precede a tsunami rise. “Citizens should remain in place and wait for further updates,” the Kodiak Police message added.
At its height, a warning was in effect for more than 3,000 miles of coastal zones north of the Washington border: British Columbia and Alaska’s entire southern shoreline including the Aleutian Islands. The National Weather Service sent messages to cellphones in Alaska with the message: “Emergency Alert. Tsunami danger on the coast. Go to high ground or move inland.”
“Based on all available data a tsunami may have been generated by this earthquake that could be destructive on coastal areas even far from the epicenter,” the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.
An announcer on KMXT radio in Kodiak appealed for residents to heed the warning.
“This is not a drill. Please get out to higher ground,” said the message. “If you are on the flats, get up on one of the hills . . . Just go high.”
A tsunami watch for Hawaii was lifted several hours after the quake.