Canada's strongest earthquake in more than 60 years has struck off British Columbia's coast, triggering tsunami warnings from the Washington border to Vancouver Island and as far away as Hawaii. But the warnings were cancelled early Sunday, several hours after they were issued.
The magnitude 7.7 quake struck at 8:04 p.m. PT Saturday and was centered off Haida Gwaii, formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands. It could be felt as far away as Edmonton and Yukon.
There were more than 10 aftershocks measuring at least 4 in magnitude. The strongest were 5.8 and 4.8.
Residents near the centre of the quake said the violent jolting from the initial tremor lasted for up to a minute, but no injuries or major damage have been reported.
Residents of Haida Gwaii reported a 90-minute power failure.
Tsunami warnings were issued for the North Coast, the Haida Gwaii islands, parts of the central B.C. coast, the coast of Alaska and for the Hawaiian islands.
Early Sunday morning the warnings were downgraded to advisory status, meaning evacuations were no longer necessary.
But much of the B.C. coast, including the northern and southern ends of Vancouver Island, remained under an advisory overnight Sunday, indicating a tsunami could produce strong currents that would be dangerous to those near the water.
When the first reports came in, I was about to yield to my jet lag and go to bed; instead, I woke right up and tried to track the story for an hour or so...and when I did go to bed, I re-tweeted reports for a while and listened to CBC Radio's excellent impromptu coverage. This morning's news is reassuring.
It's also a reminder of how well such news can spread online. Twitter especially provided a steady stream of updates. On balance, the quake provided an excellent test of modern communication systems (at least with just a few brief power outages).
It will also provide food for thought here in British Columbia about our emergency systems and how future quakes might affect us. We're currently debating the building of major pipelines from the Alberta tar sands to the coast, and the shipping of bitumen in supertankers to overseas markets like China. Proponents of such projects are going to find it's an even tougher sell today than it was yesterday morning.