Your web browser (Internet Explorer) is out of date. Some things will not look right and things might not work properly. Please download an up-to-date and free browser from here.

Tonga: Size of eruption put into perspective (InfoGraphics & Maps)

No matter how you look at this, the eruptions in Tonga on Saturday afternoon were absolutely enormous.

From the speed of the sound shockwave reaching NZ, to the size of the cloud now towering over Tonga and affecting aviation paths.

As of 10am Sunday morning people in the UK were detecting the atmospheric shockwave caused by the explosion. In Alaska, over 9000km from Tonga, people heard the sonic booms.

In California on Sunday morning tsunami is being recorded impacting coastal areas. A damaging tsunami also hit Tutukaka marina north of Auckland overnight. has made some infographics below to help better illustrate just how huge and significant this eruption in Tonga has been.

10:30am Sunday update: Please note, this shock wave has now gone GLOBAL, it was this morning detected across the UK.

The shock wave was also recorded by our official weather station in Auckland, New Zealand. Some people may have heard the explosion(s) and others may have even felt the explosions in their ear drums.

This spike is incredibly unusual. Air pressure, even when a cyclone moves in, only drops 1 or 2 hPa points per hour. In this case, it’s jumped 4hPa and then fallen almost 6hPa all in about 20 mins. The only time you might see this is if a tornado passed by a weather station, which can also make your ears pop or put pressure in your ears that you can physically feel. For this to be detected over 2000km away is remarkable and rarely recorded.


Kitty on 16/01/2022 5:02am

Heard it in Hamilton. I thought it was very loud thunder. We need rain badly and was disappointed to see clear sky and not a drop of rain. I hope everyone in Tonga is OK. God bless you all.

M laverty on 16/01/2022 4:38am

I heard large explosions in the distance in Havelock North just as sun was setting. I thought it was fireworks but it was too much light for fireworks. Around 9 pm. Dogs were barking.

Olivia on 16/01/2022 2:38am

What time was it NZ time?

WW Forecast Team on 16/01/2022 2:53am

Hi Olivia,
The eruption was around 5 to 5:30pm yesterday and the sound hit NZ about 2 to 3 hours later.
– WW

Jason on 16/01/2022 12:33am

I heard multiple booms in the Kaimai’s, went on for quite a while.

Chris Raine on 15/01/2022 10:31pm

Heard and felt at Thornbury Southland. House shook and distinct bang x 2 .Went outside to investigate.Calm and clear. Didn’t make sense at time

Anna on 15/01/2022 10:24pm

Heard several booms last night in Martinborough, Wairarapa

Janice Kumar-Ward on 15/01/2022 9:29pm

We heard it here in Oratia, High in the Waitakere in Auckland. We rushed out after hearing four or so rolling booms… not a cloud in the sky! Had us all mystified!

Brett Spicer on 15/01/2022 8:19pm

Wow amazing. I was going over my weather station readings and graphs for the day on wunderground and noticed that the pressure reading spiked, thought it was my station giving out some false reading, I checked out a few other stations on wunderground noticed the same then thought it must be a wunderground glitch.
The pressure spiked from 1017.2 up to 1020.93 then back down to 1015.51 all within 35 minutes here in Kaiaua.
Then I went to bed early and woke to all this, it’s got me buzzin.

kay on 15/01/2022 8:18pm

We heard it in central hawkes bay. A series of very deep booms, the first one shook the house.

View more comments

Related Articles