A volcanic eruption near Tonga created widespread disaster
By Kamryn Sobel
On Saturday, January 15th, California residents woke up to warnings of a Tsunami due to a volcanic eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai volcano. Those who were located in the coastal areas of California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and from the California/Mexico Border to Attu Alaska were advised to evacuate as strong currents, waves, and surges were expected.
According to The Weather Channel, “Tsunamis are a series of waves that may continue for many hours to days after the arrival of the first wave. The first wave is often not the largest wave. Each wave may last 5 to 45 minutes as the wave encroaches and recedes.”
Along the affected coastal regions, many beaches remained closed to prevent civilians from entering both the beach and water. Despite warnings of hazardous debris floating in the ocean as well as destructive waves in bays and harbors, some residents in the Capitola, CA area found themselves surfing alongside large branches and logs. According to the National Weather Service, Tsunami waves as high as 4 feet were reported along the US Pacific Coast. On Saturday evening, the National Tsunami Warning Center canceled the advisory in San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Cruz counties.
Following the eruption, the Tongan Prime Minister explained how the plume impacted all of the country’s islands, where 100,000 people reside. With no evacuation centers on their main island, many families were displaced as their homes were either found to be damaged or destroyed due to thick amounts of ash. Although much destruction was caused by the record-breaking eruption, CNN reported that “New Zealand's Foreign Ministry warned further eruptions of the volcano were likely, posing a tsunami risk.”
Due to a shortage of supplies, such as safe drinking water, aid from New Zealand and other rescue workers are currently racing the clock to ensure help is underway to the affected Tongan residents.
Melanie Moyer '22,