The earthquake happened just after 1 a.m. local time about 175 miles south of Kodiak, Alaska.
Residents of Kodiak were asked by police to move at least 100 feet above ground as a precaution. Kodiak Police Department said slightly before 2 a.m. local time (7 a.m. ET) they had not seen any increase in waves. By 2:30 a.m., Kodiak police said in the area said waters were receding from the town's harbor.
"I know that I was awake and the house started to shake and it went on and on, which is not normal for the kind of earthquakes I've experienced in Alaska. Normally they're short and this was long," Larry LeDoux, superintendent of the Kodiak Island Borough School District, told ABC's "Good Morning America."
He said 500 to 600 evacuees were seeking shelter in the high school gym.
"We opened all of our schools as shelters when we've gotten an alert," LeDrox said, adding that the high school shelter was full of children and elderly people. He described the atmosphere as "very relaxed."
"In 1964 our beloved town, Kodiak, was hit hard by a tsunami and there are some people that went through that," LeDrox said. "I recognize a number of people sitting here who were here in '64, but, you know, tsunamis are part of our life and have sirens tested every Wednesday. We drill our students once a month."
Another Alaskan resident shared a video on Twitter, where he was on a fishing boat in Kodiak. He described hearing sirens.
Around 3:30 a.m. local time, officials canceled tsunami warnings for coastal areas of South Alaska, the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutian Islands. Warnings were also called off for Hawaii and the Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and California coasts.
Tsunami warnings remained in effect for other parts of South Alaska and the Alaska Peninsula, specifically the coastal areas from Hinchinbrook Island, about 90 miles east of Seward, to Chignik, Alaska.
Tsunami warnings were issued for the south coast of Alaska and the western edge of British Columbia. Watches were extended as far south as California. Hawaii was under a tsunami watch as well.
When the quake hit, sirens warned residents in Kodiak to head for higher ground ahead of a tsunami feared to hit the Kodiak area at about 1:45 a.m., according to the Kodiak Police Department.
There were no reports of damage from the initial quake.
The US Geological Survey said the earthquake was located in an area where the Pacific tectonic plate converges with the North America plate. The earthquake was followed by a series of aftershocks, the largest measuring a magnitude 5.6, according to USGA.