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Tsunami Advisories Canceled for California, Hawaii; No Threat from 6.3 Aftershock

| October 27, 2012
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Update 1 p.m.: A 6.3-magnitude aftershock occurred off the British Columbia coast just before noon Pacific time. The West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center says in a bulletin the latest temblor is not expected to generate a tsunami.

Update 8:21 a.m.: The tsunami advisory for California was canceled at 4:44 a.m. The tsunami advisory for Hawaii also was canceled early this morning, and CNN reports that evacuation orders were lifted. A Tsunami Warning Center bulletin shows that the highest tsunami waves seen were 1.5 feet at Crescent City on the West Coast and 2.5 feet in Hawaii.

Update 1:20 a.m.: The latest bulletin from the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center keeps an advisory in place for possible wave and current action on the coast north of Point Gualala. A bulletin from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii indicates the highest tsunami wave seen tonight on the West Coast were at Crescent City, 1.4 feet at 11:36 p.m., and about an hour earlier at Point Arena, 1.3 feet. A “surge” of 0.3 feet (3.6 inches) was seen at San Francisco, and 0.4 feet (4.8 inches) at Monterey. The talk in Hawaii is of tsunami waves 6 to 7 feet above normal sea level.

Update 12:50 a.m.: Here’s a link to live video of the tsunami evacuation in Honolulu.

Update 12:30 a.m.: Meantime in the northern coastal reaches of British Columbia, where the 7.7-magnitude quake struck at 8:04 p.m. Saturday: It’s still not clear how much damage the temblor or subsequent waves did. But the locals are rattled. Witnesses say the shaking lasted from 30 to 60 seconds. Here’s an account from the CBC:

Neil Goodwin in Sandspit felt a rolling motion Saturday evening.

“It was very fluid, I guess you could say. Everything was moving. It lasted for at least a good 30 seconds. It was difficult to stand. Definitely there was some damage that was done to people’s houses here in town.”

He said the whole town evacuated and left for higher ground.

“People are definitely nervous, worried about their homes. I think everyone has got out safely. We practice tsunami evacuation drills quote often here in town, so I guess it’s all paid off now.”

The quake felt much stronger to Dave Martynuik in Queen Charlotte City.

“The whole house was just shaking, pictures on the walls,” said Martynuik. “[My son], he was stabilizing the bookshelves —and the windows, everything was just creaking.”

“We have two cats and one cat was deliberately throwing herself at the door to get herself out. It was just pure hell there for a while.”


Update 12:20 a.m.: The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center’s bulletin for Hawaii says the first waves could arrive at 10:28 Hawaiian time, or 12:28 a.m. Pacific, just a few minutes from now. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser sets the scene:

Tsunami warning sirens have sounded across Hawaii and people in inundation zones should evacuate immediately, officials said. The tsunami warning was issued for Hawaii in the wake of a 7.7-magnitude earthquake off British Columbia tonight.

State Civil Defense is urging residents to move to higher ground if they are in a tsunami evacuation zone. The first waves could arrive as soon as 10:28 p.m., said the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Ewa Beach.

The center is predicting wave heights of 3 to 6 feet in some locations. The biggest waves are expected in Hilo, Kahului, Haleiwa and Hanalei.

Victor Sardina, geophysicist with the center, urged residents to listen to instructions from Hawaii Civil Defense. “We don’t want to chance it,” he said.

“Refer to the Tsunami Evacuation Maps in your phone book,” the latest state Civil Defense message said. “If you are in a tsunami evacuation zone YOU MUST EVACUATE. If you are not in a zone stay off of the road an away form the shoreline until the all clear is sounded.”

Access tsunami evacuation maps online at www.tsunami.csc.noaa.gov/map.html

Update 12:10 a.m. Sunday: The West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center says some quake-generated wave activity has been observed both in Crescent City, near the Oregon border, and in Point Arena in Mendocino County. A sea level about 16 inches above normal sea level was detected at Point Arena at 10:37 p.m. Saturday; sea level was about 10 inches higher than normal at Crescent City at 10:02 p.m. The tsunami effect at Point Arena appears to be the largest seen so far anywhere on the West Coast.

Update 11:55 p.m.: The West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center’s latest bulletin contains a tsunami advisory for Northern California coast from Gualala Point in southern Mendocino County up the coast into central Oregon. The bulletin is “information only” for the California coast south of Gualala Point. To be clear, right now that means there is no advisory or warning in effect for the Bay Area or any point on the coast south of the Bay Area.

Here’s the bulletin text:

…THE TSUNAMI ADVISORY CONTINUES IN EFFECT FOR THE COASTAL
AREAS OF CALIFORNIA AND OREGON FROM GUALALA POINT
CALIFORNIA/LOCATED 80 MILES NW OF SAN FRANCISCO/ TO
DOUGLAS-LANE COUNTY LINE OREGON/10 MILES SW OF FLORENCE/…

And here’s the tsunami center’s rundown on what an advisory means:

A TSUNAMI ADVISORY MEANS THAT A TSUNAMI CAPABLE OF PRODUCING
STRONG CURRENTS OR WAVES DANGEROUS TO PEOPLE 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.

11:35 p.m.:
A 7.7-magnitude earthquake struck off the northern coast of British Columbia at 8:04 PDT Saturday night. Up and down the West Coast and across the Pacific, that sets off concern about a tsunami.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Honolulu has issued a warning for the Hawaiian Islands and forecast that the first tsunami waves could arrive in the islands at 10:28 p.m. Hawaiian time (12:28 a.m. PDT Sunday). The amplitude, or height, of any tsunami in the islands is unclear. Waves as high as about 10 inches–yes, inches–have been observed in the quake’s aftermath along the British Columbia coast.

The West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center, in Palmer, Alaska, issued a warning for the parts of the coast of southeast Alaska northern British Columbia and the adjoining islands, including the northern tip of Vancouver Island (later downgraded to an advisory). A tsunami advisory was posted for most of the coast from the B.C. coast down to Gualala Point in southern Mendocino County.

Right now (11:30 p.m. PDT) no threat is forecast to the California coast. The center says:

…THIS MESSAGE IS INFORMATION ONLY FOR COASTAL AREAS OF CALIFORNIA-OREGON AND WASHINGTON FROM THE CALIFORNIA-MEXICO BORDER TO THE WASHINGTON-BRITISH COLUMBIA BORDER…

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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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