A 9.0 earthquake struck off the Japan coast on Friday (Thursday evening California time), triggering a tsunami that killed hundreds of people. Tsunami warnings went into effect across the Pacific, including California. In the Bay Area, the effects have been fairly mild, although there has been some destruction of harbors, especially in Santa Cruz, and authorities have warned people to stay away from beaches.
4:40 p.m. Vivid video of the waves hitting Santa Cruz harbor:
4:20 p.m. This morning Gretchen Weber of KQED's Climate Watch spoke with Tom Brocher, Director of the Earthquake Science Center at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park. Mr. Brocher said a lot of interesting things, including the following:
The type of giant quake that hit Japan yesterday is not expected to menace the Bay Area, where the 7.9 quake of 1906 is thought to be at the upper limit of quakes in the area. The quake yesterday was 30 times larger than the 1906 quake, and 900 times the size of Loma Prieta in 1989.
North of California, however is another story. A magnitude 9.0 or above quake in the Pacific Northwest is expected. Those quakes, which are the product of vast and deep faults, are characterized by their severity and the length of shaking when they strike. Brocher said strong shaking lasted for 3-5 minutes during yesterday's tembler.
A quake in the 9.0 range occurs in the Pacific Northwest region every 300 - 500 years. The last one was in 1700, which scientists know because of a tsunami that was recorded in Japan at the time.
The U.S. Coast Guard is currently searching for a man swept out to sea while taking photos of incoming tsunami waves near the mouth of the Klamath River. The unidentified man and two friends reportedly traveled to the shoreline to take photos of the incoming waves when all three were swept out to sea. Two of the men were able to get safely back to shore, but the third remains unaccounted for, according to the release...Meanwhile, officials in Crescent City and Curry County, Ore., continue to report extensive property damage." The harbor has been destroyed,” said Crescent City Councilman Rich Enea in a phone interview earlier this morning. “Thirty-five boats have been crushed and the harbor has major damage. Major damage.” Full story
Eight-foot waves from the Japan tsunami destroyed much of Crescent City harbor, battered boats, closed the 101 Freeway and left one person missing.
KDRV-TV reported that four people were washed out to sea Friday. Three were hurt and one is feared dead.
Local residents reported that about three dozen boats were "crushed" in the harbor and that surging waters significantly damaged or destroyed most of the docks. Ocean water surging up Elk Creek north of the harbor reportedly lapped up to front doors of the community's cultural center.
Just after 11 a.m. Santa Cruz police issued mandatory evacuations for the area around the harbor and beach areas. Deputy Police Chief Steve Clark said they are anticipating an 8-foot surge into the harbor based on information received from state emergency services.
Damage at the harbor in Santa Cruz is mounting as boats have broken loose, some sinking, others banging into each other and the docks as at least four tsunami surges have ripped in and out.
Parts of Santa Cruz County were issued an evacuation notice early Friday morning because of the tsunami warning issued about 1:30 a.m. by the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center. Full article
About an hour ago, KQED's Stephanie Martin had a dramatic conversation with KUSC reporter Nick fountain just as huge wave inundated the harbor:
Eyewitness account of wave hitting Santa Cruz harbor
Update 11:43 a.m. AP reports one killed in Crescent City and three swept out to sea at Crescent City harbor.
Update 11:20 a.m. From AP:
Officials say the tsunami triggered by the massive earthquake in Japan has caused severe damage to the harbor in Crescent City, near the Oregon border.
Del Norte County sheriff's spokesman Bill Stevens says most boats were pulled out of the harbor in preparation for Friday's tsunami, but 35 vessels that remained are crashing into one another and sinking.
The wooden docks also are breaking apart under the force of the waves.
Crescent City Councilwoman Kelly Schellong says the docks and harbor "are pretty much completely destroyed."
Stevens says the damage cost is estimated to be into the millions, and surges still are expected through the afternoon.
However, the waves have not gone over the 20-foot break wall at the harbor, and no serious injuries or home damage have been reported.
Update 10:10 a.m.
Gretchen Weber of KQED's Climate Watch has interviewed Tom Brocher of the USGS in Menlo Park. He reports:
The quake in Japan was 900 times stronger than the Bay Area Loma Prieta quake, and 30 times stronger than the Great San Francisco quake of 1906.
We don't expect anything of this magnitude in the Bay Area because our faults are smaller. A 9.0+ quake north of Mendocino is estimated to hit every 300-500 years, and the last one was in 1700, which we know because of tsunami records from Japan.
From NWS: PERSONS IN TSUNAMI WARNING COASTAL AREAS SHOULD MOVE INLAND TO HIGHER GROUND. AT THIS TIME THE AREA OF GREATEST CONCERN LOCALLY APPEARS TO BE IN AND AROUND THE NORTH END OF MONTEREY BAY NEAR THE SANTA CRUZ HARBOR. ONE FAVORABLE ELEMENT IS THE TSUNAMI IS FORECAST TO ARRIVE DURING THE LOWEST TIDAL CYCLE OF THE DAY. RECOMMENDED ACTIONS...