LOS ANGELES, CA — Authorities are warning Southlanders to stay off the beaches as a tsunami triggered by an undersea volcanic eruption in the South Pacific hits the California coast.
Many Southland beaches and piers were closed, but no evacuation orders were in place. Larger than normal waves were expected throughout Saturday.
All of the southern beaches were under a tsunami warning on Saturday, waves of one to two feet rolling in around 8 a.m. the tsunami.
SEE ALSO: Tsunami advisory issued for California coast after volcano eruption
Some low-lying beach areas at risk of flooding, such as Seal Beach, have been closed to visitors as a precaution. Waves capable of producing strong currents dangerous to swimmers, boats and shore structures were expected to arrive beginning at 7:50 a.m. Wave heights of 1 to 2 feet were expected. The NWS said at 7:05 a.m. there were “no significant concerns about flooding.”
“Seeing surges on the Port San Luis tsunami gauge. Signaling so far a residual of 24 cm. It’s 9.4 inches or about 19 inches from the bottom and top of the residual,” the National Weather Service office in Los Angeles tweeted at 8:08 a.m.
The warning was in effect for Alaska, Hawaii and the entire West Coast.
The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano near Tonga erupted on Friday evening. A tsunami hit Tonga’s largest island, Tongatapu, according to CNN, which reported that waves were inundating the capital.
The Santa Monica Fire Department said the tsunami is not expected to cause major damage to beaches or the Santa Monica Pier.
Seismologist Lucy Jones, founder of the Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society, said the predicted near-term rise of 1 to 3 feet in sea level would only be a problem near the beach.
“Tsunamis are not a single wave. It’s more like sloshing and that sloshing can go on for a day. Now is not the time to go see the beach just because the first wave has passed,” said tweeted Jones, adding that “a lot of tsunami damage is happening in harbors because of the currents. Moving water has tremendous momentum.
City and Patch News Service member Paige Austin contributed to this report.