Magnitude 7.9 natural disaster hits in Gulf of Alaska, tsunami warnings issued

Vancouver Police Department press conference

The school's gym was packed as hundreds of community members had gathered after receiving alerts to evacuate after a 7.9 magnitude natural disaster hit off Alaska around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Initially, the quake prompted a tsunami warning for a large section of Alaska's coast and parts of Canada.

The US National Weather Service (NWS) said tsunami waves of less than 300mm have been confirmed.

Tsunamis can reach a coast within minutes of an quake.

Those in tsunami-warning areas are advised to evacuate inland, stay away from the shoreline and move to higher ground or to the upper floor of a multi-storey building. By the time customers started arriving, the excitement had passed and people just sat around quietly eating their meals, speaking little of the quake.

Rizzo said the state doesn't have a tsunami siren system because it would be so expensive and not every coastal area would need to be evacuated in the event of an incoming tsunami.

The Latest on an Alaska natural disaster that prompted a tsunami warning for coastal Alaska, Canada's British Columbia and the West Coast of the U.S. Kodiak is about 200 miles south of Anchorage. The tsunami sirens were not used for this incident, Hicks said. "The intent is not to scare people or make people evacuate unnecessarily, but we definitely want to err on the side of saving lives".

The quake woke Putney up out of a dead sleep, and he estimates it shook for at least 30 seconds. Residents in Alaska have reported that it's the strongest one that they have seen in nearly 20 years.

But he said the police department has received no reports of damage.

"If our model indicated that California was due to get hit with something, then that same warning for Alaska would have included California, where you would have had upwards of three hours", he said, noting that the timeline was a hypothetical.

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The natural disaster was initially reported as magnitude 8.2, but the USGS has now pegged it at 7.9. Emergency managers often worry about desensitizing people with too many warnings or warnings that don't pan out, said Andrew Preis, program manager at the Anchorage Office of Emergency Management.

Tofino mayor Josie Osborne said early Tuesday morning that she was amazed at how well residents mobilized to get to the evacuation centre. "And certainly, communities are climbing hills, some of them".

The fire chief of a popular Alaska cruise ship port city says there was no panic as residents reacted to a tsunami warning triggered by an quake in the Gulf of Alaska.

A powerful quake struck off an island in the Gulf of Alaska, prompting a tsunami threat that sent the U.S. state's residents along the southern coast and western Canada fleeing for higher ground just after midnight. He, along with 90 percent of the island's population, already live on higher ground.

For residents and designated emergency responders, the warning of an approaching tsunami - later cancelled - was a sobering reality check about our state of readiness for an event that will give hours or, in some cases, minutes to scramble to safety. It is safe to return to coastal areas.' City says school will happen today.

"Our presence was well respected out in the community once we had units out there just to provide information with what we were doing", Mount said.

It was originally listed at a magnitude of 8.2, but was revised to 7.9.

In Homer, a few hundred cars were packed into its high school parking lot.

"People were pretty relieved", said Deputy Harbormaster Kevin King.

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