The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Tsunami warnings lifted after massive quake off Alaska

Tsunami warnings were lifted after a 7.9 magnitude earthquake hit southeast of Kodiak, Ala., on Jan. 23. (Video: The Washington Post, Photo: USGS/HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock/The Washington Post)

A tsunami warning was lifted Tuesday for a stretch of Pacific Coast from Washington to Alaska after a major undersea earthquake hit southeast of Kodiak, according to the National Weather Service. During several tense hours before dawn, officials in some coastal areas urged people to seek higher ground.

The U.S. Geologic Survey gave a preliminary magnitude of 7.9. The National Weather Service put the magnitude at 8.2. The quake was located about 175 miles southeast of Kodiak in the Gulf of Alaska at a depth of about 6.2 miles at about 12:30 a.m. Alaska time.

In Kodiak, police department said water levels had receded in the harbor. A sharp withdrawal of water can precede a tsunami rise. “Citizens should remain in place and wait for further updates,” the Kodiak Police message added.

At its height, a warning was in effect for more than 3,000 miles of coastal zones north of the Washington border: British Columbia and Alaska’s entire southern shoreline including the Aleutian Islands. The National Weather Service sent messages to cellphones in Alaska with the message: “Emergency Alert. Tsunami danger on the coast. Go to high ground or move inland.”

“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,” the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.

An announcer on KMXT radio in Kodiak appealed for residents to heed the warning. Many did. A line of cars clogged a snow-covered road heading out of town.

“This is not a drill. Please get out to higher ground,” said the message. “If you are on the flats, get up on one of the hills . . . Just go high.”

A tsunami watch for Hawaii and the West Coast was lifted several hours after the quake.

More from Morning Mix:

Hawaii governor didn’t correct false missile alert sooner because he didn’t know his Twitter password

‘Fake news. I’m coming to gun you all down’: Mich. man arrested for threatening to attack CNN hosts

Neil Diamond says he has Parkinson’s disease, retires from touring. ‘This ride has been so good, so good, so good.’