A tsunami advisory issued for parts of the B.C. coast on Saturday has been lifted after an underwater volcano erupted near Tonga in the South Pacific Islands.
The advisory covered the north coast, including Haida Gwaii, and the central and north-east coasts of Vancouver Island, as well as the lower west and southwest coast of Vancouver Island, including Victoria.
According to the advisory, waves are expected over Langara Island, Haida Gwai Island at 8:30 am local time, followed by Tofino at around 8:50 am.
Residents of Port Alberni, located at the end of a long, narrow entrance on the west coast of Vancouver Island, were also subject to a consultation.
“The Tsunami Advisory is expected to remain in place for several hours. Flooding is not expected from the tsunami… Please avoid beaches and marinas,” read a Facebook post by the Port Alberni Fire Department.
In a statement, BC Public Safety Minister Mike Farnsworth said several communities had activated emergency plans in response to the advisory, which he said was evidence the province’s initial tsunami advisory system was working.
“To be clear, this is only an advisory, not a tsunami warning. The risk is limited to increased tidal currents. Until the advisory is lifted, stay off beaches, shorelines and marinas and local governments Follow the instructions.” Farnsworth’s statement reads.
“Emergency Management BC immediately activated the Provincial Emergency Coordination Center, and all Provincial Regional Operations Centers on the coast. The agency is supporting local governments and First Nations with a series of updates and coordination calls.”
Residents of at-risk, coastal areas were asked to stay away from the shoreline and follow all instructions of the local authorities.
People who were already on the shoreline were urged to get out of the water, off the beach and away from ports, marinas, bays and inlets.
Residents were told not to return to the coast until local emergency officials said it was safe to do so. Residents were also told not to go to the shoreline to watch the tsunami waves.
In Tofino, a city known for its long, wide beaches, the local district authority has temporarily closed all beaches.
A post in the District of Tofino’s Facebook page reads, “Due to changing tides, maximum wave amplitude and increased response times of Coast Guard support, all beaches should be avoided until further notice.”
Local officials say it was a valuable learning experience in case the “big one” ever hits.
“It’s a great dry-run for us,” Ucluelet Mayor Meko Noel told CTV News.
“We like it when we are able to test our systems which we have done… things like this are important to us as west coast to make sure we are ready and notified us He is going.”
The advisory came after the underwater Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Hapai volcano erupted violently on Saturday, sending a cloud of ash and steam into the air near Tonga.
Tonga Meteorological Services said data from the Pacific Tsunami Center detected waves of up to 80 centimeters (2.7 ft) after the eruption.
The eruption triggered a tsunami advisory for the North Island of New Zealand and the west coast of the United States from California to Alaska.