7.9 magnitude earthquake off Alaskan coast triggers tsunami locally; Warnings canceled for US West Coast

By Renee Duff, AccuWeather meteorologist
By Kevin Byrne, AccuWeather staff writer
January 24, 2018, 1:29:45 AM EST

A magnitude 7.9 earthquake struck off the coast of Alaska early Tuesday morning, triggering tsunami warnings from the Aleutian Islands to British Columbia. The West Coast of the United States was also put under alert for potential tsunami waves.

The temblor struck 174 miles (280 km) southeast of Kodiak, Alaska, in the Gulf of Alaska around 12:31 a.m. AKST Tuesday, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The earthquake was rather shallow, occurring just 16 miles (25 km) below the earth's surface.

At 3:12 a.m. AKST Tuesday, all tsunami watches and warnings were canceled. A tsunami had been confirmed, but it did not pose any major threat to land.

The tsunami warning was canceled for the coastal areas of British Columbia, Southeast Alaska and South Alaska and the Alaska Peninsula. A tsunami watch had been in effect for the West Coast from California to Washington as well as Hawaii.

earthquake graphic alaska

Immediately following the quake, the National Tsunami Warning Center (NTWC) warned that anyone from the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, to the entire southern coast of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands should "evacuate inland or to higher ground above and beyond designated tsunami hazard zones or move to an upper floor of a multi-story building depending on your situation."

The Kodiak, Alaska, Police Department urged residents to get to at least 100 feet above sea level and to remain in place at higher ground. The police department said that harbor officers reported water was receding from the harbor. An update at 2:47 a.m. local time from the police department indicated the tide levels rose 3 feet but had since subsided. Tide levels continue to fluctuate, officials said.

Kodiak city officials told residents it was safe to return home later Tuesday morning after the threat had diminished.

Schools in Kodiak were closed for the day on Tuesday due to the tsunami threat.

A tsunami warning means that a tsunami with the potential to generate widespread inundation is imminent, expected, or occurring. A tsunami watch is issued when a tsunami may later impact the watch area.

A tsunami wave of 0.5 feet was reported in Old Harbor, Alaska, at 1:56 a.m. AKST.

More than 60 aftershocks have been recorded since the initial quake struck.

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Alaska Gov. Bill Walker and other state officials were closely monitoring the situation.

The USGS initially reported the earthquake magnitude at 8.2, but later revised it to 7.9.

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