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California, West Coast on Tsunami Watch

| March 11, 2011
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The latest message (1:45 a.m. PST) from the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center: A tsunami warning is now in effect from Point Concepcion, on the lower Central California coast, all the way to the mouth of the Columbia River on the Oregon-Washington coast.
Advisory from West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

Earlier post:
Michael Burgy of the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska, says that the entire Pacific Coast of the United States and Canada,from southeastern Alaska through Southern California, is on a tsunami watch. on a watch right now.

The duration of the advisory in California is unclear, Burgy says, as the center studies how fast the wave is traveling. He said it’s expected to reach the first of tsunami monitoring shore station, in the outer Aleutian Islands, at about 1:30 a.m. PST.

Here’s the text of the West Coast and Alaska center’s latest message:

The Tsunami Advisory continues in effect for the coastal areas of Alaska from Chignik Bay, Alaska to Attu, Alaska.

The Tsunami Watch continues in effect for the coastal areas of California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and Alaska from the California-Mexico border to Chignik Bay, Alaska.

A Tsunami Advisory means that a tsunami capable of producing strong currents or waves dangerous to persons in or very near the water is expected. Significant, widespread inundation is not expected for areas under an advisory. Currents may be hazardous to swimmers, boats, and coastal structures and may continue for several hours after the initial wave arrival.

A Tsunami Watch means that all coastal residents in the watch area should prepare for possible evacuation. A tsunami watch is issued to areas which will not be immediately impacted by the tsunami. Watch areas will either be upgraded to warning or advisory status, or canceled.

At 9:46 PM Pacific Standard Time on March 10, an earthquake with preliminary magnitude 8.8 occurred near the east coast of Honshu, Japan . (Refer to the United States Geological Survey for official earthquake parameters.) This earthquake has generated a tsunami which could cause damage to coastal regions in a warning or advisory. The waves are expected to first reach Shemya, Alaska at 12:13 AM AKST on March 11. Estimated tsunami arrival times and maps along with safety rules and other information can be found on the WCATWC web site.

Meantime, Hawaii is facing a full-on tsunami warning with an estimated arrival of a first wave at 2:59 a.m. local time (4:59 a.m. PST). Here’s the message from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Honolulu:

A TSUNAMI HAS BEEN GENERATED THAT COULD CAUSE DAMAGE ALONG COASTLINES OF ALL ISLANDS IN THE STATE OF HAWAII. URGENT ACTION SHOULD BE TAKEN TO PROTECT LIVES AND PROPERTY.
A TSUNAMI IS A SERIES OF LONG OCEAN WAVES. EACH INDIVIDUAL WAVE
CREST CAN LAST 5 TO 15 MINUTES OR MORE AND EXTENSIVELY FLOOD
COASTAL AREAS. THE DANGER CAN CONTINUE FOR MANY HOURS AFTER THE INITIAL WAVE AS SUBSEQUENT WAVES ARRIVE. TSUNAMI WAVE HEIGHTS
CANNOT BE PREDICTED AND THE FIRST WAVE MAY NOT BE THE LARGEST.
TSUNAMI WAVES EFFICIENTLY WRAP AROUND ISLANDS. ALL SHORES ARE AT
RISK NO MATTER WHICH DIRECTION THEY FACE. THE TROUGH OF A TSUNAMI WAVE MAY TEMPORARILY EXPOSE THE SEAFLOOR BUT THE AREA WILL QUICKLY FLOOD AGAIN. EXTREMELY STRONG AND UNUSUAL NEARSHORE CURRENTS CAN ACCOMPANY A TSUNAMI. DEBRIS PICKED UP AND CARRIED BY A TSUNAMI AMPLIFIES ITS DESTRUCTIVE POWER. SIMULTANEOUS HIGH TIDES OR HIGH SURF CAN SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASE THE TSUNAMI HAZARD. THE ESTIMATED ARRIVAL TIME IN HAWAII OF THE FIRST TSUNAMI WAVE IS 0259 AM HST FRI 11 MAR 2011

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About the Author ()

Dan Brekke has worked in media ever since Nixon's first term, when newspapers were still using hot type. He had moved on to online news by the time Bill Clinton met Monica Lewinsky. He's been at KQED since 2007, is an enthusiastic practitioner of radio and online journalism and will talk to you about absolutely anything. Reach Dan Brekke at dbrekke@kqed.org.
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