A biker leads a line of cars driving off the Homer Spit at about on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, in Homer, Alaska after a tsunami evacuation order was issued for low-lying areas in Homer. (Michael Armstrong / Homer News via AP)

A biker leads a line of cars driving off the Homer Spit at about on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, in Homer, Alaska after a tsunami evacuation order was issued for low-lying areas in Homer. (Michael Armstrong / Homer News via AP)

Earthquake prompts tsunami fears, fleeing

The earthquake struck south of Sand Point, Alaska.

By BECKY BOHRER

Associated Press

A magnitude 7.5 earthquake prompted a tsunami warning Monday for a nearly thousand-mile stretch of Alaska’s southern coast, with waves over 2 feet at the nearest community as the threat subsided.

The quake was centered near Sand Point, a city of about 900 people off the Alaska Peninsula where wave levels late Monday topped 2 feet, according to the National Tsunami Warning Center. The warning was downgraded to an advisory just over two hours after the quake hit.

“It was a pretty good shaker here,” said David Adams, co-manager of Marine View Bed and Breakfast in Sand Point. “You could see the water kind of shaking and shimmering during the quake. Our truck was swaying big time.”

Adams didn’t take any photos or video: “It just kind of happened all of a sudden.”

The quake struck in the North Pacific Ocean just before 1 p.m. It was centered about 67 miles southeast of Sand Point, according to the Alaska Earthquake Center. The community is about 800 miles southwest of Anchorage. The quake was recorded at a depth of 19 miles.

[Alaska tribes say agency ignored Tongass exemption request]

The National Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska, said the tsunami warning — and later advisory — was in effect for roughly 950 miles, from 40 miles southeast of Homer to Unimak Pass, about 80 miles northeast of Unalaska.

A 7.5 earthquake struck Southwest Alaska on Oct. 19, 2020. A tsunami warning was declared for many coastal communities. (Screenshot/ U.S. Geological Survey)

A 7.5 earthquake struck Southwest Alaska on Oct. 19, 2020. A tsunami warning was declared for many coastal communities. (Screenshot/ U.S. Geological Survey)

The quake was felt widely in communities along the southern coast, including Sand Point, Chignik, Unalaska and the Kenai Peninsula, according to the Alaska Earthquake Center, which said a magnitude 5.2 aftershock was reported 11 minutes later, centered roughly in the same area.

Patrick Mayer, superintendent of the Aleutians East Borough School District, said parents picked up their children from Sand Point School, which also served an evacuation point. The earthquake was felt to varying degrees at the other four schools in the district, the closest of which is 90 miles away, he said.

Mayer said a school bus was dispatched to a fish processing facility to bring workers to the school since it’s on high ground.

The workers were to wear masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus, he said, in a community where there have been only “limited cases.”

Public safety officials in King Cove urged residents to remain vigilant after the warning was downgraded and to stay off the beach and out of harbors and marinas. Waves by late afternoon in King Cove were less than 2 feet, according to the National Tsunami Warning Center.

The size of the quake was originally reported to have been a magnitude of 7.4, but was revised to a 7.5, said Paul Caruso, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey. He said an earthquake of this size, in this area, is not a surprise.

“This is an area where the Pacific Plate is subducting underneath the North American Plate. And because of that, the Pacific Plate actually goes underneath the North American Plate, where it melts,” Caruso said, noting that’s why there are volcanoes in the region. “And so we commonly have large, magnitude 7 earthquakes in that area.”

Rita Tungul, front desk assistant at the Grand Aleutian Hotel in Unalaska, said she felt some shaking but it wasn’t strong. Her coworker didn’t feel the quake at all, she said.

Connie Newton, owner of the Bearfoot Inn, a grocery store, liquor store and small hotel in Cold Bay, said the temblor it felt like someone drove into her building with a truck. Still, nothing fell to the ground and she said she suffered no damage because she earthquake-proofed her stores by installing 2-inch risers around the outside of her shelves.

More in News

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Nov. 27

Mountain reflections are seen from the Mendenhall Wetlands. (Courtesy Photo / Denise Carroll)
Wild Shots: Photos of Mother Nature in Alaska

Superb reader-submitted photos of wildlife, scenery and/or plant life.

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
At Wednesday evening’s special Assembly meeting, the Assembly appropriated nearly $4 million toward funding a 5.5% wage increase for all CBJ employees along with a 5% increase to the employer health contribution. According to City Manager Rorie Watt, it doesn’t necessarily fix a nearly two decade-long issue of employee retention concerns for the city.
City funds wage increase amid worker shortage

City Manager says raise doesn’t fix nearly two decade-long issue of employee retainment

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Saturday, Dec. 3

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Molly Yazwinski holds a 3,000-year-old moose skull with antlers still attached, found in a river on Alaska’s North Slope. Her aunt, Pam Groves, steadies an inflatable canoe. (Courtesy Photo /Dan Mann)

 

2. A 14,000-year-old fragment of a moose antler, top left, rests on a sand bar of a northern river next to the bones of ice-age horses, caribou and muskoxen, as well as the horns of a steppe bison. Photo by Pam Groves.

 

3. Moose such as this one, photographed this year near Whitehorse in the Yukon, may have been present in Alaska as long as people have. Photo by Ned Rozell.
Alaska Science Forum: Ancient moose antlers hint of early arrival

When a great deal of Earth’s water was locked up within mountains… Continue reading

FILE - Freight train cars sit in a Norfolk Southern rail yard on Sept. 14, 2022, in Atlanta. The Biden administration is saying the U.S. economy would face a severe economic shock if senators don't pass legislation this week to avert a rail worker strike. The administration is delivering that message personally to Democratic senators in a closed-door session Thursday, Dec. 1.  (AP Photo / Danny Karnik)
Congress votes to avert rail strike amid dire warnings

President vows to quickly sign the bill.

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire
Juneau state Sen. Jesse Kiehl, left, gives a legislative proclamation to former longtime Juneau Assembly member Loren Jones, following Kiehl’s speech at the Juneau Chamber of Commerce’s weekly luncheon Thursday at the Juneau Moose Family Center.
Cloudy economy, but sunnier political outlook lie ahead for lawmakers, Kiehl says

Juneau’s state senator tells Chamber of Commerce bipartisan majority a key to meaningful action

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Friday, Dec. 2

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Hunter credits community members for Thanksgiving rescue

KENAI — On Thanksgiving, Alaska Wildlife Troopers released a dispatch about a… Continue reading

Most Read