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Nature's Nightmares

Giant earthquake off Alaska coast triggers tsunami alerts for the entire West Coast of the U.S. and Canada

A magnitude 7.9 earthquake off the coast of Alaska early Tuesday prompted NOAA's U.S. Tsunami Warning System to issue a tsunami warning for parts of Alaska and all of coastal British Columbia, and put the entire U.S. West Coast and Hawaii on tsunami watch. The earthquake struck 157 miles southeast of Chiniak, Alaska, at about 3:30 a.m. Alaska Standard Time (9:31 a.m. GMT), the U.S. Geological Survey said, and the National Weather Service (NWS) issued this map estimating when the tsunami would hit various areas. The NWS's Los Angeles office estimated that the tsunami would hit southwest California between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. local time.

People who live in coastal Alaska and British Columbia should "move inland to higher ground," the Anchorage Office of Emergency Management said. "Tsunami warnings mean that a tsunami with significant inundation is possible or is already occurring." The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said that, "based on all available data a tsunami may have been generated by this earthquake that could be destructive on coastal areas even far from the epicenter." Japan's meteorological agency did not issue a tsunami alert but said it is monitoring the situation, Reuters reports. Peter Weber

Update 7:35 a.m. ET: The tsunami warnings and other alerts have now been canceled for Alaska, British Columbia, and the U.S. West Coast after "additional information and analysis have better defined the threat."