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KAZU News

Here are the impacts of the tsunami along the Monterey Bay

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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
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Satellite images of the volcanic eruption captured by the Japan Meteorological Agency's Himawari-8 satellite, courtesy of NOAA.

A violent underwater volcanic eruption near the islands of Tonga in the Southwest Pacific sent waves across thousands of miles of ocean, prompting tsunami warnings along the West Coast Saturday morning.,

A tsunami advisory was issued Saturday morning for California’s coast. Surges of water flooded low lying areas, including the Santa Cruz harbor, where a parking lot was inundated with water and several vehicles were damaged.

“There were a couple of very large ones (surges) this morning that came in and basically tore the Santa Cruz university boat dock apart, and we saw a boat that almost sunk,” said Jim Skinner, a member of the yacht club who lives near the Santa Cruz harbor.

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Jerimiah Oetting
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KAZU News
A crowd of people, including a group of boat owners, monitor the lower end of Santa Cruz Harbor. A tsunami surge occurred on Saturday morning that flooded the parking lot, damaging some cars.

Tom Halderman, a boat owner, came early to the harbor to monitor the situation.

“We were impressed by the surge when it came in and it actually flooded the parking lot,” he said. “That was impressive.”

Videos on social media documented some of the damage at Santa Cruz harbor, where some parked vehicles were afloat. Two fishermen were swept out to sea at San Gregorio beach north of Santa Cruz and were hospitalized after self-rescuing. Two others were swept off a dock at Pillar Point, 25 miles south of San Francisco, but were quickly rescued without injuries, according to the New York Times. Evacuated surfers struggled to get out of the water at Pleasure Point.

Halderman said the damage at the Santa Cruz harbor was minor compared to the tsunami in 2011. That event was caused by an earthquake off the coast of Japan that also led to the Fukushima disaster.

“It was dramatic and really sad,” he said. “Not a wonderful day in the Santa Cruz harbor life.”

Most tsunamis are initiated by an earthquake caused by shifting tectonic plates. But the Tonga was unique because it was caused by a massive underwater explosion.

All state and city beaches in Monterey County and all city beaches in Santa Cruz County are closed for the remainder of the day.