7.5-magnitude earthquake strikes off coast of Alaska

A 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Alaska early Saturday morning and a tsunami warning is in effect for portions of British Columbia, Canada, and southeastern Alaska, officials said.

There were no initial reports of damage but the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center said a small tsunami — about six inches — was observed near the southeastern Alaskan town of Port Alexander on Baranof Island.

The quake struck at about 3:58 a.m. ET off the coast of Alaska 63 miles west of Craig, a town on Prince of Wales Island, and about 208 miles south of the capital of Juneau, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The size of the temblor was downgraded by the USGS from 7.7 to 7.5.

The tsunami warning at 5:30 a.m. ET included the coastal areas of British Columbia and from the northern tip of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, to Cape Fairweather, Alaska, about 80 miles southeast of Yakutat, the tsunami warning center.

A tsunami watch was for areas of British Columbia to the Washington-British Columbia border was canceled, the bulletin said.

Based on available data, the tsunami warning center said there is “no destructive threat” to Hawaii, though it warned that some coastal areas could experience larger waves and strong currents.

On October 27, a tsunami was spawned by a 7.7-magnitude earthquake that struck 86 miles south of Masset on British Columbia’s Queen Charlotte Islands.

The tsunami reached all the way to Hawaii, where sirens were sounded to warn residents to get to higher ground. Visions of the devastating quake and tsunami that killed thousands in Japan in March 2011 fueled the fright, but the waves proved to be smaller and less powerful than feared.

While the warning said waves could surge between 3 and 6 feet, the largest wave, measured in Kahului on the island of Maui, was about 2.5 feet above ambient sea level.
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