Four incredible effects of the Tonga volcano eruption

SPOKANE, Wash.– In an instant, the eruption of the Hunga Tonga–Hunga Haʻapa volcano went from a minor curiosity in islands of the South Pacific to an unfolding disaster for the small island nation of Tonga. A tsunami after the explosive eruption devastated the coast of the country’s main island of Tongatapu. Information has been hard to get out of Tonga since the eruption cut communications.

RELATED: Flights sent to assess Tonga damage after volcanic eruption

The explosive eruption’s impact goes beyond Tonga, however. Here are four incredible effects of the eruption from around the world.

1. Alaska hears the blast

The shock wave from the eruption traveled at the speed of sound across the Pacific, and that sound came to the ears of some Alaskans early on Saturday morning.

The National Weather Service in Alaska says that since Hawaii didn’t hear the “boom” there may be some atmospheric effect at play that we don’t quite understand.

2. Inland Northwest weather stations spot the shock

The pressure wave or “shock wave” continued to speed across the world, arriving in the Inland Northwest around 4 a.m. local time. Numerous weather stations recorded a brief pressure rise and then sharp fall as the wave passed. Volcano monitoring stations in the Pacific Northwest caught another shock wave coming around the opposite side of the globe.

Tonga Pressure Wave from volcano eruption 1-15-22

3.  Triggering waves in Puerto Rico

Tsunami waves caused by the eruption, pushing away water around the volcano, traveled to every coastline of the Pacific. One place not on the Pacific coast is the island nation of Puerto Rico; but they did see some wave action because of the volcano. A meteotsunami is a tsunami caused by a sudden drop in air pressure. There is evidence that the shock wave of the eruption caused a small meteotsunami on this island of Puerto Rico, a literal ocean and continent away. This is a potentially groundbreaking discovery!

4. A lightning show for the ages

Lightning is common during volcano eruptions. An erupting plume of hot ash and superheated water can quickly create clouds and lots of static electricity as it rises and cools. This volcano produced an amount of lightning in just a few hours that’s hard to comprehend!

RELATED: Tsunami advisory no longer in effect for Washington coast