Tonga eruption hits close to home


Lillian Dolph

An underwater volcano off the coast of Tonga erupted on Jan. 14 sending waves across the Pacific Ocean from Canada to Australia, and shock waves as far as Mt. Hood. 

According to NBC, the volcano left three dead with many homes destroyed and communication down. 

The eruption sent plumes as high as 12 miles above sea level and created a cloud of ash spanning 150 miles.

The National Weather Service reported the highest wave surges being over 4 feet above normal levels in Port San Luis, CA. 

On Saturday, 1 to 3 foot waves were predicted to hit the coast, and the largest surge was by Port Orford at 1.5 feet. However, the Oregon coast saw more people than usual.

“Plenty of people, seeing the news, flocked to the waves,” said Oregon Live.

Oregonians were seemingly unfazed, even when the tsunami warnings sounded. Part of the reason for this is that Oregon is always at risk for natural disasters such as earthquakes or tsunamis. 

According to Oregon.Gov, “The Pacific Coast is at risk both from a local tsunami, arriving within minutes of an earthquake, and distant tsunamis, taking several hours to reach the shore.”

For many Oregonians, the tsunami warnings at the coast seemed like nothing compared to “The Big One” which is due anytime in the next 50 years. 

“Oregon has the potential for a 9.0+ magnitude earthquake caused by the Cascadia Subduction Zone and a resulting tsunami of up to 100 feet in height that will impact the coastal area,” according to Oregon.Gov. 

At the Cascadia Subduction Zone, the Juan De Fuca plate is slipping under the North American continent, building up pressure which will inevitably cause the earthquake. 

Not only will Oregon see a Tsunami at the coast, but in the Lake Oswego area we will see buildings and bridges collapse, buildings sway, and hills move.

The Tonga eruption has made residents of Oregon, and especially the Oregon Coast, more aware of the necessity of evacuation plans and Tsunami routes. 

In the end Oregon didn’t see much action at the coast due to the eruption, and most warnings in countries bordering the pacific ocean only lasted about a day. States in the US did not have a big increase in wave size.