After the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano triggered a global tsunami warning — the volcanic blast now perhaps the most violent eruption ever captured by satellite — deep waves of displaced water began traveling toward the Bay Area in what was the region's most threatening tsunamic event in over a decade.
Saturday Morning, the National Weather Service issued a tsunami warning for all of the West Coast, including the San Francisco Bay Area, that began around 7:30 a.m., the first waves reaching various local shorelines around 8:10 a.m. that morning. But tsunamis (for the most part) aren't single-wave oceanic events; they pulse and often include a series of surges that aren't as visual as people have been led to believe through cinema.
Volcano erupts in Tonga; Tsunami warning on U.S. West Coast including San Francisco Bay. We are all connected and affected by nature. Stay safe! pic.twitter.com/08AARPBI06— Christine Pelosi (@sfpelosi) January 15, 2022
Thought the National Weather Service indicated yesterday that peak waves of 1 to 2 feet transpired from the event, widespread flooding was observed across the Bay Area — the Santa Cruz harbor, for example, saw a sizeable tsunami swell that caused damage to piers, uprooted trash cans, and left parked cars almost completely submerged as waves worked their way inland. Yesterday's events were only exacerbated by January's king tides and the fact that the tsunami made landfall during high tide, as well.
Saturday's tsunami warning caused the Berkeley Fire Department to issue an evacuation order for the city’s Marina district that affected some 113 people as waves began climbing up Del Monte Beach; a San Francisco Fire Department truck was spotted along the Great Highway Saturday morning, alerting everyone near Ocean Beach to "get off the beach"; officers with the Marin County Sheriff’s Office were seen warning people of the encroaching wave before closing off nearby beaches; U.S. Coast Guard officers were patrolling the Bay Area shorelines most of the day to ensure people heeded warnings to reevaluate their beach plans.
By late Saturday afternoon, all local evacuation orders and warnings relating to the tsunami had been lifted.
It was a day that many people "never saw coming," but just goes to show how vulnerable our coastal cities are to natural phenomena. And rising sea levels... be them caused by the climate crisis or volcanic eruptions that send ash plumes over 12 miles into the atmosphere.
For those of us who weren’t able to observe the dangerous waves from a safe distance, here are some images and videos posted during yesterday’s Bay Area tsunami event.
The beach in San Francisco. With the tsunami alert, law enforcement in full force. The waves don’t seem too big yet. pic.twitter.com/zAmcHcCL71— Cnglee (@Cnglee8) January 15, 2022
#BREAKING #USA #CA— loveworld (@LoveWorld_Peopl) January 15, 2022
🔴SAN FRANCISCO FIRE DEPT WARNING PEOPLE ABOUT THE TSUNAMI ADVISORY FOR THE BAY AREA DUE TO THE ERUPTION OF #TONGA VOLCANO !#VIDEO WAVES ACTIVITY ON THE COAST, SAN FRANCISCO ! #BreakingNews #Volcano #Tsunami #Eruption #Erupcion#California #SanFrancisco pic.twitter.com/qCq2ImiuMj
Soquel Creek in Santa Cruz flowing *backwards* because of a tsunami 🤯 pic.twitter.com/JxFsllhhdX— robwormald (@robwormald) January 15, 2022
Tsunami energy arriving at Del Monte Beach. Wave run up onto the beach is impressive. I'm safely distanced, but I saw other folks have to scramble when the waves unexpectedly reached them. Follow @NWSBayArea for #tsunami safety info. pic.twitter.com/JRl2XsTftI— Brooke Bingaman (@BrookeBingaman) January 15, 2022
#TsunamiAdvisory— Marin County Sheriff (@MarinSheriff) January 15, 2022
Please avoid traveling to our coastal areas to observe the surges. It is not safe.
There are extremely powerful currents associated with the surges and if you are pulled into the water it will overpower you.
Dock damage in Richardson Bay area. pic.twitter.com/T9LHJs7j6T
Photo: Courtesy of Twitter via @gmkl