Japanese Quake Puts Alaska on Tsunami Watch

Associated Press & KTUU

A massive earthquake in Japan late Thursday created a tsunami which has set off warnings along portions of the Alaska coastline and earlier this morning pushed rising water through the Aleutian Chain.

The surge has already passed through portions of the chain between Attu and Nikolski, which were subsequently downgraded to a tsunami advisory.   The National Oceanic and Atmospheric report showed water rising about 5 feet early this morning in Shemya.   The levels in Adak and Dutch Harbor were about 18 inches.

The remainder of Alaska’s coast through South Central and Southeast were issued a tsunami watch.

Emergency Management Specialist David Lee at Joint Base Elmendorf/ Richardson says there are no reports of damage and no significant is damage expected on the coast of Alaska, although that could still depend on the surge in different areas.

A statement from the Kenai Borough Peninsula said evacuation from low lying areas was not required, but advised people to stay out of harbors and off beaches because of possible strong currents.

Besides southern Alaska, a warning was issued for the Washington, Oregon and California coasts.

The initial waves which struck Hawaii about 5am were described as moderate, in one location pushing water over the breakwater but not into the hotels lining the beach.   Elsewhere in Hawaii the waves were about three feet.

At a magnitude of 8.9, Thursday’s earthquake is the largest in Japan’s recorded history.  Its center was off the northern coast by the city of Honshu and official reports say caused major damage in broad areas of northern Japan.

Some international flights to Toyko are being diverted to Anchorage, including three jets last night.  The passengers were taken to Anchorage hotels.

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