Weather Updates

Small first tsunami wave hits Alaska after 7.7 Canadian earthquake

Updated: October 28, 2012 1:29AM

The first wave from a small tsunami has been reported in a southeast Alaska community.

State officials say a wave with a height of about 4 inches was measured in Craig late Saturday evening.

That was smaller than earlier forecasts, which said the wave could have been up to 1 foot.

Parts of southeast Alaska and the Canadian coast remain under a tsunami warning.

The National Weather Service issued a warning for coastal areas of southeast Alaska including the small community of Craig. The U.S. Coast Guard in Alaska said it’s trying to warn everyone with a boat on the water to prepare for a potential tsunami.

“That’s the predicted arrival time for the first wave, which typically is not the largest but nevertheless we don’t expect the maximum wave height to be large,” said Bill Knight at the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center.

He said any forecast that includes waves of 1-foot to 3 1/2-feet qualifies for an advisory threat level, which does not mean a full-fledged evacuation.

“It does mean pulling back from harbors, marinas, getting off the beach,” Knight said.

The state Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management activated its emergency operations center and notified officials in southeast Alaska communities.

“We are instructing residents to be alert for messages from their local emergency officials,” spokesman Jeremy Zidek said in an email to The Associated Press.

Lt. Bernard Auth of the Juneau Command Center said the Coast Guard was also working with local authorities to alert people in coastal towns to take precautions.

Lucy Jones, a USGS seismologist, said the earthquake likely would not generate a large tsunami.

“This isn’t that big of an earthquake on tsunami scales,” she said. “The really big tsunamis are usually up in the high 8s and 9s.”

She said the earthquake occurred along a “fairly long” fault - “a plate 200 kilometers long” in a subduction zone, where one plate slips underneath another. Such quakes lift the sea floor and tend to cause tsunamis, she said.

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.