EVERETT — Areas of the inland waters including Whidbey Island were under a tsunami advisory much of Saturday after a volcano erupted near Tonga in the Pacific Ocean. The advisory, which first went into effect around 4:30 a.m., was cancelled at 4:30 p.m.
The advisory included Whidbey, Camano and the San Juan islands and areas to the west — Admiralty Inlet, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and along the Olympic Peninsula coast.
As of late Saturday afternoon, there were no reports of damage in Washington from waves that were expected to be from 1 to 3 feet.
The Snohomish County shoreline wasn’t part of the tsunami advisory, but local officials all day urged caution. “We’re still encouraging people to stay clear of the beaches and waterfront areas for a few more hours,” Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management spokesperson Scott North said around 4 p.m.
Snohomish County Parks and Recreation closed Meadowdale Beach, Picnic Point and Kayak Point County Parks while the advisory was in effect. In Edmonds, city officials closed piers and beaches as a precaution.
North said the biggest concern heading into Saturday evening was the potential for strong currents that are difficult to see.
The Port of Everett Marina didn’t close but sent alerts to customers about the tsunami advisory.
California was still under a tsunami advisory Saturday evening.
Tsunami advisories mean that a tsunami capable of producing dangerously strong currents or waves is expected or is already occurring. Tsunamis are a series of waves dangerous many hours after initial arrival time, the weather service said.
The advisory was triggered after an undersea volcano erupted in spectacular fashion Saturday near the Pacific nation of Tonga, sending tsunami waves crashing across the shore and people rushing to higher ground. The tsunami advisory was issued for Hawaii, Alaska and the mainland U.S. Pacific coast.
In Hawaii, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reported waves that measured 1.6 feet in Nawiliwili, Kauai, and 2.7 feet Hanalei.
On California’s central coast, the National Weather Service reported tsunami waves up to 4 feet and flooding in beach parking lots at Port San Luis.
The explosion of the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano was the latest in a series of dramatic eruptions. The U.S. Geological Survey estimated the eruption caused the equivalent of magnitude 5.8 earthquake. Scientists said tsunamis generated by volcanoes rather than earthquakes are relatively rare.