Skip to main content
University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Home
  • News
  • Weekly Weather Event -Week of January 17th

Weekly Weather Event -Week of January 17th

January 21, 2022

On January 14th and 15th, large volcanic eruptions happened at Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai due to an underwater volcano, producing plumes that reached up to the stratosphere and caused a tsunami that traversed large parts of the Pacific. Following these explosions and after images could be taken, it was found that most of the previous island has been destroyed. Only small parts of the northeaster island of Hunga Tonga and the southwest island of Hunga Ha’apai remain after the eruption. Ashfall and sulfurous odors were reported throughout several islands, and many received tsunami waves between 2-15 meters high. Communications were cut off from the island for several days, largely due to damage to undersea cables and ash clouds preventing airplanes from safely navigating and landing. As of this writing, three people have died in Tonga.

The eruption also produced shock waves that were heard as far away as Fiji, New Zealand, and Alaska. This pressure wave continued to circle the globe and was recorded on infrared and weather instruments worldwide, including on the rooftop instruments at the AOSS building. Our own Professor Grant Petty has an in-depth analysis of this on his personal blog.

We recommend staying up to date with information on the eruption and its effects on the people of Tonga.