UPDATE: Tsunami alert for coastal B.C. no longer in effect

UPDATE: Tsunami alert for coastal B.C. no longer in effect

The National Tsunami Warning Center issued a cancellation at 2:33 p.m. Pacific Time for all watch, advisory and warning notices for coastal British Columbia that had been issued.

No zones of coastal British Columbia are at risk anymore.

The advisories and alerts were issued following a volcanic eruption near the Pacific island nation of Tonga — approximately 9,200 kilometres southwest of Vancouver Island — that occurred on Friday B.C. time (Saturday Tonga time).

The tsunami advisory remains in effect for parts of coastal United States. Updates can be found on the National Tsunami Warning Center’s website.

A previous version of this story appears below

Emergency Management B.C. has issued a tsunami advisory for much of B.C.’s west coast following after an undersea volcano erupted near the Pacific nation of Tonga last night.

It includes the west coast of Vancouver Island spanning from Greater Victoria to Cape Scott, including the Saanich Peninsula.

Emergency Management B.C. says if you are in a tsunami advisory area you should not go near the shore and to move out of the water, off the beach, and away from harbours, marinas, breakwaters, bays and inlets.

It also says to “not return to the coast until local emergency officials indicate it is safe to do so.”

The tsunami advisory was issued at 6:40 Saturday morning.

The advisory was initially issued for tsunami zones A, B, C, D., but at 12:43 p.m. it was ended for zones A and B.

Zone C encompasses the outer west coast of Vancouver Island from Cape Scott to Port Renfrew, and Zone D includes the Juan de Fuca Strait from Jordan River to Greater Victoria, including the Saanich Peninsula.

Zones A and B include the North Coast and Haida Gwaii, and the Central Coast and northeast Vancouver Island Coast, including Kitimat, Bella Coola and Port Hardy.

Local governments in these zones are asked to activate their emergency plans and to consider evacuating marinas, beaches and other areas at risk.

Waves are expected to arrive at Langara at 8:30 a.m. PST and Tofino at 8:50 a.m. PST.

At this time the only zone not under tsunami advisory is Zone E, which covers the Strait of Georgia including the Gulf Islands, Greater Vancouver and Johnstone Strait.

If you are in a tsunami advisory area:

  • Do not go to the shore to observe the tsunami.
  • Move out of the water, off the beach, and away from harbours, marinas, breakwaters, bays and inlets.
  • Be alert to and follow instructions from your local emergency officials because they may have more detailed or specific information for your location.
  • Do not return to the coast until local emergency officials indicate it is safe to do so.
  • Boat operators: where time and conditions permit, move your boat out to sea to a depth of at least 180 feet; if at sea avoid entering shallow water, harbours, marinas, bays, and inlets to avoid floating and submerged debris and strong currents.

The U.S. Tsunami Warning Center released wave measurements for three areas in B.C.

In Winter Harbour waves were measured at 29 cm, or one foot, in Bamfield waves were measured at 18 cm, or 0.6 feet, and in Tofino waves reached 16 cm, or 0.3 feet.

Mike Farnworth, B.C.’s minister of public safety and solicitor general issued a statement which echoed the warnings to stay away from beaches, shorelines and marinas.

“To be clear, this is an advisory only, and not tsunami warning. The risk is limited to increased tidal currents,” Farnworth said in a statement.

“Overnight, several communities along the coast activated their emergency plans. Emergency Management BC immediately activated the Provincial Emergency Co-ordination Centre, and all provincial regional operations centres on the coast. The agency has also been supporting local governments and First Nations with updates and a series of co-ordination calls.”

The U.S. National Tsunami Warning Center has tweeted the first waves have been observed in some locations, and remind people that the first waves that arrive may not be the largest.

The CRD has issued a public service announcement about the tsunami warning reminding people to not go near the water, if someone is near the water to move out of the water, off the beach and away from harbours, marinas, breakwaters, bays and inlets.

They say at this time people are not asked to evacuate their homes.

The CRD says the tsunami advisory is expected to be in place for five to six hours.

E-Comm 911 says they are not the right people to call for information about the tsunami, but instead people should be checking with other official sources.

Tofino has closed public access to the public beaches.

The City of Colwood has closed the gates at Ocean Boulevard to block vehicle access to the Esquimalt Lagoon during the tsunami warning as a precautionary measure.


The eruption from the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano occurred on Saturday local time (Friday night B.C. time), prompting the Tonga Meteorological Services to issue a tsunami warning for the entire country.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or on the extent of the damage because all internet connectivity with Tonga was lost at about 6:40 p.m. local time, according to the network intelligence firm Kentik. Tonga gets its internet via an undersea cable from Suva, Fiji, which presumably was damaged.

Video posted to social media showed large waves washing ashore in coastal areas, swirling around homes and buildings.

The National Weather Service Honolulu released the following satellite footage of the volcanic eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano.

According to the Smithsonian Museum Global Volcanism Program the last known eruption of this volcano was in 2015.

The volcano was experiencing activity between Dec. 29 and Jan. 4 this year, according to the museum, but the activity stopped on the fourth.

During this activity gas, steam, and ash plumes rose at least to 12.2 km, which lasted for up to 30 minutes.

Tonga is a small South Pacific nation — it only has a population of around 105,000 — comprised of 170 islands. It is located more than 9,000 kilometres southwest of Vancouver Island and is about 2,000 kilometres northwest of New Zealand. The volcano is located about 64 kilometres north of Tonga’s capital, Nuku’alofa.

This is a developing story, more details will be added as information becomes available. With files from the Associated Press.


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