Waves Sweep 4 Out To Sea In Crescent City As Tsunami Surges Reach West Coast
Officials say the tsunami triggered by the massive earthquake in Japan has killed one person, swept three others out to sea and caused severe damage to the harbor in Crescent City, near the Oregon border.
ABC affiliate KDRV confirmed that the waves pulled the four out to sea late Friday morning. Two of the other people were found alive and one is still unaccounted for.
Del Norte County sheriff's spokesman Bill Stevens said 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 were breaking apart under the force of the waves.
Crescent City Councilwoman Kelly Schellong said the docks and harbor "are pretty much completely destroyed."
Stevens said the damage cost was 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.
Bay Area, CA Coast Getting Slammed By First Surges Of Tsunami
Waves were surging slightly along California's northern coast near the Oregon border from a tsunami triggered by the massive earthquake in Japan.
The tide began rising shortly after 7:30 a.m. PST along beaches in Crescent City, where the tsunami was expected to hit the hardest in California. Officials predicted that waves could reach as high as 7 feet.
Local officials have been activating tsunami warning sirens along the Del Norte and Humboldt county coasts throughout the morning and have urged residents in low-lying areas to seek higher ground.
In Southern California, some surfers ventured out on the water to take advantage of decent waves ahead of the tsunami.
Elsewhere, emergency officials closed some beaches and advised people to stay away from the shoreline.
Tsunami waves hit Hawaii, sweep across islands
Tsunami waves hit Hawaii in the early morning hours Friday and were sweeping through the island chain after an earthquake in Japan sparked evacuations throughout the Pacific and as far as the U.S. western coast.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said Kauai was the first island hit early Friday by the tsunami. Water rushed ashore in Honolulu, swamping the beach in Waikiki and surging over the break wall in the world-famous resort but stopping short of the area's high-rise hotels.
Waves at least 3 feet high were recorded on Oahu and Kauai, and officials warned that the waves would continue and could become larger.
Roadways and beaches were empty as the tsunamis struck the state, which had hours to prepare. Residents in coastal areas of Hawaii were sent to refuge areas at community centers and schools while tourists in Waikiki were moved to higher floors of their high-rise hotels. People waited in long lines stocking up on gas, bottled water, canned food and generators, and officials told residents to stock up on water and fill their cars with gas.
The tsunami, spawned by an 8.9-magnitude earthquake in Japan, slammed the eastern coast of Japan, sweeping away boats, cars, homes and people as widespread fires burned out of control. It raced across the Pacific at 500 mph - as fast as a jetliner - and likely won't change speed until it hits a large area of land, said Kanoa Koyanagi, a geophysicist for the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.
Waves are predicted to hit the western coast of the United States between 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. EST Friday. People near the beach and in low-lying coastal areas of Point Conception in Santa Barbara County were told to move immediately inland to higher ground.
While the tsunami is likely to go around smaller islands, the size of Hawaii's islands will amplify the waves, which will crash hardest against harbors and inlets.
"They're going to be coming in with high currents, they can pick up boulders from the sea floor ... they can pick up cars, they can pick up fuel tanks, those things become battering rams and so it just amplifies the destruction in a big tsunami," said Chip McCreery, director for the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.
Waves almost 5 feet high hit Midway, a tiny island in the North Pacific about 1,300 miles northwest of Honolulu.
"We're preparing for the worst and we're praying for the best," said John Cummings III, spokesman for the Honolulu Department of Emergency Management.
The Honolulu International Airport remained open but seven or eight jets bound for Hawaii have turned around, including some originating from Japan, the state Department of Transportation said.
All harbors are closed and vessels were being ordered to leave the harbor.
The warnings issued by the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center cover an area stretching the entire western coast of the United States and Canada from the Mexican border to Chignik Bay in Alaska.
In Alaska, a dozen small communities along the Aleutian Island chain were on alert. A wave just over 5 feet hit one area, and there were no reports of damage.
In Oregon, sirens blasted and at least one hotel was evacuated in Seaside in the northe.
The warning was issued Friday at 3:31 a.m. EST. Sirens were sounded about 30 minutes later in Honolulu alerting people in coastal areas to evacuate. About 70 percent of Hawaii's 1.4 million population resides in Honolulu, and as many as 100,000 tourists are in the city on any given day.