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No tsunami threat to Hawaii following 7.8-magnitude Alaskan earthquake

  • Headlights from a line of cars shine at dusk as people evacuate the Spit in Homer, Alaska, following a powerful earthquake in the Aleutian Islands that prompted a tsunami warning. There were no immediate reports of damage in the sparsely populated area of the state, and the tsunami warning was later canceled. (Pat Williams Russell via AP)

    Headlights from a line of cars shine at dusk as people evacuate the Spit in Homer, Alaska, following a powerful earthquake in the Aleutian Islands that prompted a tsunami warning. There were no immediate reports of damage in the sparsely populated area of the state, and the tsunami warning was later canceled. (Pat Williams Russell via AP)

  • COURTESY USGS

    COURTESY USGS

There is no tsunami threat to Hawaii following a 7.8-magnitude earthquake off the Alaskan Peninsula Tuesday night.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said “no tsunamis were observed at nearby deep ocean gauges.”

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake struck at 8:12 p.m. Hawaii time and was centered about 65 miles south-southeast of Perryville, Alaska, and 529 miles south-southwest of Anchorage, at a depth of about 17 miles.

There were no immediate reports of damage in the sparsely populated area of Alaska, and the tsunami warning was canceled after the quake off the Alaska Peninsula produced a wave of a less than a foot.

Early Wednesday in Alaska, the center said the tsunami warning that was issued for South Alaska, the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutian Islands had been canceled. A tsunami advisory was canceled Tuesday evening for coastal areas east and west of the warning area.

“No reports of any damage,” Kodiak Police Sgt. Mike Sorter told The Associated Press early Wednesday morning. “No injuries were reported. Everything is nominal.”

On Kodiak Island, the local high school opened its doors for evacuees, as did the local Catholic school, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

“We’ve got a high school full of people,” said Larry LeDoux, superintendent of the Kodiak School District. “I’ve been passing out masks since the first siren sounded,” he told the Daily News.

“Everything’s as calm as can be. We’ve got probably 300, 400 people all wearing masks,” he said.

The center said for other U.S. and Canadian Pacific coasts in North America, there was no tsunami threat.

“There was actually even no reported wave activity for our area,” Sorter said.

Because of the temblor’s location, nearby communities along the Alaska Peninsula did not experience shaking that would normally be associated with that magnitude of a quake, said Michael West, Alaska State Seismologist.

That doesn’t mean they slept through it, West said residents in small towns within a hundred miles (160 kilometers) of the quake reported very strong shaking. Some shaking was also felt more than 500 miles away in the Anchorage area, West said.

Tsunami warnings are commonplace for people who grew up in Kodiak.

“I’ve been doing these since I was a little kid,” LeDoux told the newspaper. “Old news.”

Officials at the National Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska, began calling off tsunami advisories and warnings after a wave of less than 1 foot (30 centimeters) was recorded in the community of Sand Point.

“I might have expected a little bit more water, but I’m happy that there wasn’t,” said David Hale, the senior duty scientist at the tsunami center.

Tuesday’s quake was more powerful than the magnitude 7.1 earthquake that caused damage in the Anchorage area in November 2018.

“This earthquake released about 15 times as much energy as that earthquake, said West, the state seismologist.

More than a dozen aftershocks of magnitude 4.0 or higher were reported immediately after the earthquake, he said from the Alaska Earthquake Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

“We got people here who are going be working all night,” West said early Wednesday morning. “These aftershocks will go and go and go and go.”

The Alaska-Aleutian Trench was also where a magnitude 9.2 quake in 1964 was centered. That remains the second most powerful earthquake ever recorded. The temblor and ensuing tsunami caused widespread damage and killed 131 people, some as far away as Oregon and California.

Alaska is the most actively seismic state. Nearly 25,000 earthquakes have been recorded in Alaska since Jan. 1, according to the center.

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