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Wednesday’s ‘megathrust’ magnitude 8.2 quake was Alaska’s largest in more than 50 years

No serious damage reported after coastal residents temporarily sought higher ground
This graphic shows the location and preliminary magnitude of an earthquake that struck at 10:15 p.m. Wednesday, July 28, 2021.(Alaska’s News Source Weather Team)
By Megan Pacer and Lauren Maxwell
Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 10:47 PM PDT|Updated: 19 minutes ago

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) – A magnitude 8.2 earthquake struck off the coast of the Alaska Peninsula Wednesday night, sending coastal communities for higher ground and generating a small tsunami wave, but no major damage.

It was Alaska’s largest earthquake since 1965, when a magnitude 8.7 earthquake struck at the Rat Islands in the Aleutian Chain. The state’s largest earthquake to date remains the magnitude 9.2 Good Friday earthquake of 1964.

Wednesday’s quake struck about 64 miles southeast of Perryville at 10:15 p.m. and triggered a tsunami warning for much of the Gulf of Alaska coast. The U.S. Geological Survey reported it was about 20 miles deep. The earthquake did produce a small tsunami — with waves between 0.4-0.7 feet in some coastal communities — but the warning was canceled about two hours later.

No serious damage has been reported, according to Jeremy Zidek, spokesperson for the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

Before the all-clear, coastal towns from Sand Point on the Aleutian Chain to Seward and Homer on the Kenai Peninsula evacuated residents to higher ground, with local schools opening as shelters. In Homer, Police Chief Mark Robl said about 2,000 people were evacuated off the roughly 4.5-mile long Homer Spit.

In the summer, the Spit’s many RV campgrounds and sections for tent camping fill up with tourists from the Lower 48 and elsewhere in Alaska alike.

“We had some good campground hosts out there who started going around telling those folks who didn’t know what the tsunami system was and what they should do, and it was actually a pretty orderly evacuation,” Robl said.

Cars evacuate off the Homer Spit after the community got a tsunami warning the evening of Wednesday, July 28, 2021 following a magnitude 8.2 earthquake off the Alaska Peninsula.(Photo courtesy Crisi Osier Matthews)

In Sand Point, where potential tsunami activity was projected to start first, police department administrator Denise Mobeck sounded the alarm for her community herself.

The tsunami warning alarm is not automatic in Sand Point, she explained, so she went to the building where it’s located to activate it.

Mobeck was in bed when she first felt the quake.

“It started getting stronger and stronger,” she said. “And I ended up going out into the living room because I started hearing glass break.”

She said it felt like the earthquake lasted about two minutes.

In Perryville, the community closest to the quake’s epicenter, Sarah Kosbruk caught her vehicles being violentely jostled in her driveway on film.

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