South Pacific Tsunami Cleared the Fog in Seattle

No reports of mass casualties in Tonga, though a British woman is missing
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2022 8:38 AM CST
South Pacific Tsunami Cleared the Fog in Seattle
A pickup truck is partially submerged in Santa Cruz, Calif., early Saturday as the surge from a tsunami in Tonga inundated a parking lot at the Upper Harbor. Moments later all the water receded from the lot before flooding it again shortly thereafter.   (Shmuel Thaler/The Santa Cruz Sentinel via AP)

(Newser) – Just how big was the volcanic eruption near the South Pacific island nation of Tonga over the weekend? Researchers say it was likely the biggest such eruption on the planet in the last 30 years, reports CNN. The eruption of the undersea volcano on Saturday sent a plume of ash 12 miles into the atmosphere and triggered tsunami waves across the entire Pacific. More than 5,000 miles from the eruption, marinas were swamped in California. More:

  • Casualties: So far, no mass casualties have been reported, though the volcano snapped an undersea cable that has largely cut off Tonga's communication with the world, per the AP. It could take weeks to repair. New Zealand and Australia were conducting military surveillance flights, though continued eruptions were hampering that effort.

  • Missing: A 50-year-old British woman, Angela Glover, is missing, reports the Guardian. "I don’t think this is going to have a happy ending,” her brother tells the newspaper. He says his sister, who ran an animal shelter in the Tongan capital of Nuku’alofa, was swept away by a wave, while her husband survived by clinging to a tree. The BBC reports the couple may have returned home to save their dogs when the wave hit.
  • Seattle fog: An unusual side effect of the eruption was seen nearly 6,000 miles away in Seattle, according to a tweet from the National Weather Service. "When the pressure shockwave arrived, it may have changed the depth of a temperature inversion over the area," says the NWS. "SeaTac (433 ft. above sea level) temporarily cleared from fog w/ the arrival of the shockwave then fogged in again. Fascinating stuff."
  • Archipelago: Tonga has a population of about 100,000 people across its 170-plus islands, per CNN. The archipelago lies about 500 miles east of Fiji and is about 1,500 miles from New Zealand. The volcano that blew is the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai.
(Read more tsunami stories.)

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