Tsunami warnings reduced after 7.5 Alaska quake

Sand Point, Alaska scene (photo by Jimmie Emerson, DMV, courtesy of Creative Commons)

The Associated Press

Updated: Only a tsunami advisory remains in effect following Aleutian Island quake

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Some schools on the Kenai Peninsula Borough in Alaska were evacuated following a 7.5 earthquake Monday off the Alaska Peninsula.

The quake struck in the North Pacific Ocean just before 1 p.m.

Tsunami warnings have since been canceled or downgraded to advisories. Public safety officials in King Cove, a community near the epicenter, earlier sent out an alert urging residents in the coastal area to move inland to higher ground.

A tsunami advisory means that a tsunami capable of producing strong currents or waves dangerous to persons in or very near the water is expected or already occurring. However, areas in the advisory should not expect widespread inundation. 

The National Weather Service has stated an advisory is now in effect from Kennedy Entrance 40 miles west of Homer, to Unimak Pass in the Aleutian Chain.

Tsunami warnings have been canceled for Washington state, and communities on the Kenai Peninsula including for the city of Seward and Resurrection Bay communities, and for Homer and the coastal communities of Kachemak Bay, including Seldovia, Port Graham, Nanwalek, and Kachemak Selo. There is no tsunami warning in effect for the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

The tsunami warnings were issued by the National Tsunami Warning Center following the earthquake centered about 67 miles southeast of Sand Point. The community is about 800 miles southwest of Anchorage. The quake was recorded at a depth of 19 miles.

The size of the quake was originally reported to have been a magnitude of 7.4, but has been revised to a 7.5, said Paul Caruso, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey. He said an earthquake of this size, in this area, is not a surprise.

“This is an area where the Pacific Plate is subducting underneath the North American Plate. And because of that, the Pacific Plate actually goes underneath the North American Plate, where it melts,” Caruso said, noting that’s why there are volcanoes in the region. “And so we commonly have large, magnitude 7 earthquakes in that area.”

The warning center said the quake was widely felt in communities along the southern coast, including Sand Point, Chignik, Unalaska and the Kenai Peninsula. The Alaska Earthquake Center said a magnitude 5.2 aftershock was reported 11 minutes later, centered roughly in the same area.

“It was a pretty good shaker here,” said David Adams, co-manager of Marine View Bed and Breakfast in Sand Point. “We’re doing OK.” He said all guests were accounted for and “the structure itself is sound.”

“You could see the water kind of shaking and shimmering during the quake,” he said. “Our truck was swaying big time.” He didn’t take any photos or video: “It just kind of happened of all of a sudden.”

Rita Tungul, front desk assistant at the Grand Aleutian Hotel in Unalaska, said she felt some shaking, but it wasn’t strong. Her co-worker didn’t feel the quake at all, she said.

Connie Newton, owner of the Bearfoot Inn, a grocery store, liquor store and small hotel in Cold Bay, said the temblor it felt like someone drove into her building with a truck. Still, nothing fell to the ground and she suffered no damage because she earthquake-proofed her stores by installing 2-inch risers around the outside of her selves.

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Indian Country Today contributed to this report, which has been updated with details on tsunami warnings and location on the Alaska Peninsula.

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