Tsunami warning downgraded or canceled across Gulf of Alaska after magnitude 7.9 earthquake

Update | 4:35 a.m.

Reporters in many coastal communities say evacuations have been called off. Tsunami advisories remain in effect in some areas. Advisories mean that while a wave has been recorded in the Gulf of Alaska, it’s not big enough to require evacuations. Being in or on the water is still dangerous, and there may be unexpected tides or currents.

“They’re still detecting aftershocks out at the original earthquake location in the central Gulf,” said Tom Ainsworth of the National Weather Service in Juneau. “So in other words, there will still be some earthquakes and some water level fluctuations out along the coast, but the warning threat has been canceled.”

Seismologist Michael West with the Alaska Earthquake Center and Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs spokesman Jeremy Zidek told members of Alaska Public Media’s newsroom in Anchorage that no damage had been reported from the earthquake itself.

From earlier this morning, Ted Panamarioff in Kodiak shared this video of tsunami warnings and evacuation orders blaring in the streets.

Update | 3:27 a.m.

The U.S. Tsunami Warning System reports tsunami warnings across the Gulf of Alaska have been canceled or downgraded. Additional information and analysis have better defined the threat.

  • The Tsunami Watch is canceled for the coastal areas of California, Oregon and Washington from The California/Mexico border to The Washington-British Columbia border.
  • The Tsunami Warning is canceled for the coastal areas of British Columbia, Southeast Alaska, South Alaska, and the Alaska Peninsula from The Washington-British Columbia border to Hinchinbrook Entrance in Alaska, 90 miles east of Seward.
  • The Tsunami Warning is canceled for the coastal areas of South Alaska and the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands from Chignik Bay to Attu.
  • For other US and Canadian Pacific coasts in North America, there is no tsunami threat.

The warning system reported several waves around the state of under a foot. 

  • At 3:29 a.m., Kodiak observed 0.6-foot wave
  • At 3:31 a.m., Seward observed a 0.4-foot wave
  • At 3:38 a.m., Old Harbor observed a 0.7-foot wave
  • At 3:18 a.m., Sitka observed a 0.4-foot wave
  • At 3:35 a.m., Yakutat observed a 0.5-foot wave

Update | 2:55 a.m.

Minutes ago, Gov. Bill Walker put out this statement on Twitter.

The U.S. Geological Survey now says the earthquake was magnitude 7.9. earthquake struck in the Gulf of Alaska about 175 miles southeast of Kodiak at 12:31 a.m. 

Initial reports in Sitka from KCAW at 2:25 a.m. was there was no wave to speak of.

In Kodiak, KMXT is receiving calls reporting receding water in the harbor, then a sudden rise. The Kodiak Police Department warns that may be the first sign of an approaching wave.

The National Weather Service has issued a tsunami warning for virtually the entire Gulf of Alaska coastline after a magnitude 8.2 earthquake struck. The weather service advises people on the coast to move inland to higher ground.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the earthquake struck in the Gulf of Alaska about 175 miles southeast of Kodiak at 12:32 a.m.

The National Weather Service put out a list of locations and times when tsunamis are forecast to strike — Kodiak was the earliest on the list at 1:45 a.m. The first wave may not be the largest.

Kodiak Alaska 145 AM AKST. January 23.
Elfin Cove Alaska 150 AM. AKST. January 23.
Seward Alaska 155 AM. AKST. January 23.
Yakutat Alaska 200 AM. AKST. January 23.
Sitka Alaska 200 AM. AKST. January 23.
Langara British Columbia 210 AM. AKST. January 23.
Valdez Alaska 215 AM. AKST. January 23.
Cordova Alaska 220 AM. AKST. January 23.
Sand Point Alaska 220 AM. AKST. January 23.
Unalaska Alaska 240 AM. AKST. January 23.
Homer Alaska 250 AM. AKST. January 23.
Craig Alaska 300 AM. AKST. January 23.
Cold Bay Alaska 300 AM. AKST. January 23.
Adak Alaska 305 AM. AKST. January 23.
Tofino British Columbia 340 AM. AKST. January 23.
Shemya Alaska 345 AM. AKST. January 23.
Saint Paul Alaska 400 AM. AKST. January 23.

Weather service forecaster Tom Ainsworth in Juneau said this about the capital city.

“For the Juneau area, it’s highly unlikely that there will be significant waves felt this far in the inner channels.”

On Facebook, CBJ Emergency Programs Manager Tom Mattice  says he’s is not calling for an evacuation of the capital city. Mattice writes that he’s at the National Weather Service Office. He says tides in Juneau should be below 8 feet when the waves are expected to hit, “So we have (a) fair tide margin. Models say we should be ok.”

In Sitka, KCAW’s Robert Woolsey reports that their community’s warning sirens are also sounding. KCAW’s Emily Kwong reports the town is evacuating. 

In Kodiak, KMXT reporter Kayla Desroches reports people moving to local schools and up Pillar Mountain. There are reports of tsunami warning sirens sounding there as well.

In Homer, about 50 people have gathered at the South Peninsula Hospital. The city has opened Homer’s High School as a shelter.

In Unalaska, KUCB’s Zoe Sobel describes a chaotic scene with residents in their pajamas getting into their cars and heading for places 50 feet above sea level.  

We’ve also had reports of a strong earthquake felt on the Kenai Peninsula and tremors felts in Southeast Alaska.

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