ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A powerful earthquake off Alaska’s southern coast jolted coastal communities late Tuesday, and some residents briefly scrambled for higher ground over fears of a tsunami.
There were no immediate reports of damage in the sparsely populated area of the state, and the tsunami warning was canceled after the magnitude 7.8 quake off the Alaska Peninsula produced a wave of a less than a foot.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the earthquake struck Tuesday at 10:12 p.m. local time and was centered in waters 65 miles (105 kilometers) south-southeast of the tiny community of Perryville, at a depth of 17 miles (28 km).
A second earthquake - a 6.2 magnitude 130 miles SW of Port Alice, British Columbia, and 335 miles northwest of Seattle - struck about 11:30 p.m.
Because of the first temblor’s location, nearby communities along the Alaska Peninsula did not experience shaking that would normally be associated with that magnitude of a quake, said Michael West, Alaska State Seismologist.
That doesn’t mean they slept through it, West said residents in small towns within a hundred miles (160 kilometers) of the quake reported very strong shaking. Some shaking was also felt more than 500 miles (805 kilometers) away in the Anchorage area, West said.
“No reports of any damage,” Kodiak Police Sgt. Mike Sorter said early Wednesday morning. “No injuries were reported. Everything is nominal.”
Kodiak is about 200 miles (320 kilometers) northeast of where the earthquake was centered.
The tsunami warning prompted coastal residents to evacuate to higher ground, with social media posts showing long lines of people fleeing towns like Homer and Kodiak as tsunami sirens wailed in the background.
On Kodiak Island, the local high school and Catholic opened their doors for evacuees, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
“We’ve got a high school full of people,” said Larry LeDoux, superintendent of the Kodiak School District. “I’ve been passing out masks since the first siren sounded,” he told the Daily News.
“Everything’s as calm as can be. We’ve got probably 300, 400 people all wearing masks,” he said before the warning was canceled.
Tsunami warnings are commonplace for people who grew up in Kodiak.
”I’ve been doing these since I was a little kid,” LeDoux told the newspaper. “Old news.”
Officials at the National Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska, began calling off tsunami advisories and warnings after a wave of less than 1 foot (30 centimeters) was recorded in the community of Sand Point.