A NOAA satellite image from the Regional and Mesoscale Meteorology Branch of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/NESDIS shows an explosive eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano in Tonga on Saturday. Photo by RAMMB/NOAA/NESDIS/EPA-EFE/Handout
Jan. 15 (UPI) -- A 4-foot tsunami hit the Pacific nation of Tonga on Saturday and prompted advisories along the west coasts of the United States and Canada after an underwater volcano exploded.
Other nearby islands and coastal areas of New Zealand also were put under tsunami alerts after waves crashed into Tonga's largest island, flooding coastal roads, CNN affiliate Radio New Zealand reported.
Floodwaters inundated sections of the capital, Nuku'alofa, including the main street, waterfront properties and the palace grounds of Tonga's King Topou VI, who was evacuated.
A convoy of police and and troops rushed the king to a villa at Mata Ki Eua and residents fled to higher ground as ash spewed over the capital, RNZ reported, citing local media.
In the United States, the National Weather Service issued tsunami advisories for coastal areas of the United States and Canada stretching from Alaska's Aleutian Islands chain to the California-Mexico border.
A tsunami advisory means a dangerous wave is on the way, with strong and unusual currents expected along coasts and in bays, marinas and harbors. People in the affected areas are urged to move to high ground and away from the shore.
A similar advisory for Hawaii was canceled Saturday afternoon.
Beaches, harbors and piers in Orange County, Calif., south of Los Angeles, were closed early Saturday, though no significant damage was expected.
In Canada, a tsunami advisory was issued for the parts of British Columbia, including the province's north and central coast and areas of Vancouver Island.
The Pacific island nation of Fiji, located about 475 miles northwest of Tonga, issued an advisory asking people living in low lying coastal areas to "move to safety."
A tsunami advisory is also under effect for the nation of Vanuatu, according to the National Disaster Management Office, with residents advised to move to higher ground away from the coastline.
Tsunami advisories following the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai volcano eruptions spread as far away as New Zealand's North Island.
"We expect New Zealand coastal areas on the north and east coast of the North Island and Chatham Islands to experience strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges at the shore," the National Emergency Management Agency said in an advisory posted to Twitter.
The volcano first erupted Friday, with ash rising 12.4 miles into the air, according to RNZ, and erupted a second time on Saturday, 4 minutes before the Australian Bureau of Meteorology reported the 4-foot wave near Nuku'alofa at 5:30 p.m.
Waves crashed into coastal homes after the latest volcano eruption, social media footage showed, The Washington Post reported.
The Bureau of Meteorology in Australia added that two small Australian islands, Lord Howe and Norfolk Island, were also under a tsunami warning.
An initial warning for U.S. territory of American Samoa where residents were asked to move away from beaches and harbors amid reports of tsunami waves, was lifted soon after, according to the Post.