Tsunami sirens rang out in Hawaii today as residents scrambled to buy supplies and leave beach areas for higher ground, fearing that a powerful wall of water like the 23-foot wave that slammed the Japanese coastline today could be headed for the Hawaiian islands. Cities and towns in California and Oregon were evacuated as well.
So far, the waves along the U.S. coastline have been nothing like the fearsome surge of water that struck the Japanese coastline today, killing hundreds of people and simply wiping entire buildings into the sea. Some U.S. cities reported waves of up to 8 feet, and officials warned that tsunami waves were notoriously unpredictable.
"It's not just one wave, it's a series that could last up to 12 hours after the initial arrival," National Weather Service forecaster Diana Henderson told reporters today, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. "It will be a series of inundations."
In Santa Cruz, Calif., at least one person is feared dead after an 8-foot wave destroyed the Crescent City harbor and swept four people out to sea. According to the Los Angeles Times, the U.S. Coast Guard is searching for one man who was swept into the sea while taking photographs of the waves. The paper also said that a couple swimming off the coast of Oregon today was swept 50 yards out to sea but has been rescued. In California's Santa Barbara County, 75 campers were rescued in Jalama Park, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Tsunami Relief: Network for Good
Others, however, chose to ride out the waves by heading straight into them. In Santa Cruz this morning, Duncan Maclean got into his boat and headed out to sea. "It's the safest place to be in a tsunami," Maclean told the San Jose Mercury News. "I have a substantial investment here I have to protect."
The National Weather Service warned that the entire West Coast of the United States remained under a tsunami watch this afternoon and advised residents to stay away from the coastline.
The 8.9-magnitude quake that sent waves rolling through the Pacific Ocean today was the largest earthquake in Japan in 150 years, since records began in the country.