Written by Joshua Harper
A magnitude 7.7 earthquake struck off the western coast of Canada on Saturday night, but no major damage has been reported. Residents in parts of British Columbia were evacuated, but the province appeared to escape the biggest quake in Canada since 1949 largely unscathed. The U.S. Geological Survey said the powerful temblor hit the Queen Charlotte Islands just after 8pm local time Saturday at a depth of about 3 miles and was centered 96 miles south of Masset, British Columbia. It was felt across a wide area in British Columbia, both on its Pacific islands and on the mainland.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center lifted its tsunami advisory for Hawaii Sunday morning just before 4am local time, three hours after downgrading from a warning and less than six hours after the waves first hit the islands.
The National Weather Service canceled tsunami advisories for Canada, Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California.
Tsunami Warning Center officials said wave heights were diminishing in Hawaii, though swimmers and boaters should still be careful and aware of strong or unusual currents. The biggest waves — about 5 feet high — appeared to hit Maui.
There were no immediate reports of damage, though one person died in a fatal crash near a road that was closed as a result of the threat near Oahu’s north shore.
Dennis Sinnott of the Canadian Institute of Ocean Science said that a 27 inch wave was recorded off Langara Island on the northeast tip of Haida Gwaii, formerly called the Queen Charlotte Islands. The islands are home to about 5,000 people, many of them members of the Haida aboriginal group. Another 21 inch wave struck Winter Harbour on the northeast coast of Vancouver Island.
The USGS said the temblor shook the waters around British Columbia and was followed by a 5.8 magnitude aftershock several minutes later. Several other aftershocks were also reported.
In Hawaii, the tsunami warning urged residents to stock up on essentials at local gas stations and grocery stores and sent tourists in beachside hotels to higher floors in their buildings. Bus service into Waikiki was cut off an hour prior to the first waves hitting, and police in downtown Honolulu shut down a Halloween block party. In Kauai, three schools that were being used as evacuation centers quickly filled to capacity.
In Alaska, the wave or surge was recorded at 4 inches (10 centimeters), much smaller than forecast, said Jeremy Zidek, a spokesman for the Alaska Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. The first wave hit Craig about two hours after the earthquake.