SAN FRANCISCO — An undersea volcano has erupted in spectacular fashion near the Pacific nation of Tonga, sending large tsunami waves crashing across the shore and people rushing to higher ground.
A tsunami advisory is in effect for Hawaii and the U.S. Pacific coast, where sea fluctuations are reported.
Authorities on alert at beaches
Fire Departments and law enforcement agencies sent crews to beaches in California Saturday morning in anticipation of high waves.
In San Francisco, officials used loudspeakers to warn people to stay "out of the water, away from the coast and off the beach."
High tides reported along coast
Coastal locations across California are reporting high tides and strong currents.
The National Weather Service’s San Francisco office reports that tsunami related spikes in water levels are coinciding with high tides.
They are expecting the water level to rapidly rise and fall throughout the day.
According to the National Weather Service on Twitter, tide gauges in southern California are measuring 1-2.5 foot tsunami waves.
In Los Angeles, flooding has been reported up to at least one parking lot due to high waves.
Video out of Santa Barbara County shows high tides as fire departments ask people to avoid beaches.
The Montecito Fire Department tweeted Saturday that while there is no threat for significant inundation, strong rip currents and high tides may continue for several hours after the initial wave arrived earlier in the morning.
Similar scenes of high tides are also being reported in Half Moon Bay.
Eruption sends cloud of ash into air
There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage on Tonga as communications with the small nation remain cut off.
Footage showed large waves washing ashore, swirling around homes and buildings. New Zealand’s military says it's on standby.
Dramatic images captured by satellites show a 3-mile-wide plume of ash, steam and gas rising into the air 12 miles high.
Tonga's King Tupou VI was reportedly evacuated from his palace near the shore, among the many residents who headed for safety.
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