Tsunami roundup: The latest developments in Japan, Hawaii, and on the Left Coast
- Japan's Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) has confirmed at least one thousand dead and another 530 missing in six different prefectures. The official death toll is expected to be higher, as entire cities and towns were wiped out by the tsunami.
- The full extent of damage to Japan's rail network is not known, but some lines are going to need repairs before they will be operational again.
- Although Japan managed to shut down all of its nuclear power plants, a fire broke out at one of them (which was later extinguished), and at another, the cooling system failed, causing authorities to declare a state of emergency.
- The Navy Times has reported that the tsunami snapped the mooring lines for two American submarines in port in Guman (Houston and the City of Corpus Christi). Tugs responded immediately and protected the submarines from damage. Ships in Guam have been ordered to make way to Japan.
- Preliminary reports indicate the tsunami caused damage on at least three of Hawaii's islands. One wave reached as far as a hundred feet inland. Daybreak has only just arrived, and the all-clear has now been sounded. Thanks to the advance warning and the evacuations, no lives were lost.
- In California, the tsunami came ashore forcefully in Crescent City and Santa Cruz. Significant damage has been reported in Crescent City, where waves were at least six and half feet high. The harbor is said to be destroyed.
- The U.S. Coast Guard temporarily closed the Columbia River to shipping due to the tsunami.
- Residents of coastal Washington towns waited out the tsunami in cars on Highway 101 after receiving warnings from local authorities to evacuate low lying areas. The first tsunami waves to hit Washington measured less than two feet, and damage, if any, is expected to be very slight.
- The New York Times reports that Japan's strict building codes saved lives and prevented an even bigger disaster. We should learn from their example.
- The Seattle Times has an inevitable "it could happen here" story, which is actually pretty good since it relies on knowledgeable local scientists to paint the grim picture of a similar disaster on this side of the Pacific.
LOCATION LAT LON TIME AMPL
------------------------ ----- ------ ------- -----------
NORTH SPIT CA 40.8N 124.2W 1630UTC 03.1FT/00.95M
PORT SAN LUIS CA 35.2N 120.8W 1721UTC 06.3FT/01.93M
PORT ANGELES WA 48.1N 123.4W 1827UTC 01.9FT/00.59M
WINTER HARBOUR BC 50.7N 128.3W 1450UTC 01.7FT/00.53M
SANTA MONICA CA 34.0N 118.5W 1845UTC 02.4FT/00.74M
SANTA BARBARA CA 34.4N 119.7W 1801UTC 02.2FT/00.67M
SAND POINT AK 55.3N 160.5W 1812UTC 01.6FT/00.49M
NIKOLSKI AK 52.9N 168.9W 1614UTC 02.7FT/00.82M
KING COVE AK 55.1N 162.3W 1713UTC 01.6FT/00.48M
CRAIG AK 55.5N 133.1W 1613UTC 00.8FT/00.24M
ELFIN COVE AK 58.2N 136.3W 1535UTC 00.5FT/00.16M
SITKA AK 57.1N 135.3W 1711UTC 01.0FT/00.32M
POINT REYES CA 38.0N 123.0W 1803UTC 04.4FT/01.35M
PORT ORFORD OR 42.7N 124.5W 1724UTC 06.1FT/01.85M
ADAK AK 51.9N 176.6W 1747UTC 03.4FT/01.05M
KODIAK AK 57.7N 152.5W 1550UTC 00.5FT/00.15M
LOS ANGELES CA 33.7N 118.3W 1905UTC 01.1FT/00.32M
SAN DIEGO CA 32.7N 117.2W 1906UTC 00.7FT/00.21M
LA JOLLA CA 32.9N 117.3W 1834UTC 01.0FT/00.31M
Note that tsunami amplitudes are measured relative to normal wave level.
President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have offered their condolences to Japan's leadership and people on behalf of the United States. The White House released a statement early this morning, before sunrise on the Left Coast, saying that America was ready to come to Japan's aid:
Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to the people of Japan, particularly those who have lost loved ones in the earthquake and tsunamis. The United States stands ready to help the Japanese people in this time of great trial. The friendship and alliance between our two nations is unshakeable, and only strengthens our resolve to stand with the people of Japan as they overcome this tragedy. We will continue to closely monitor tsunamis around Japan and the Pacific going forward and we are asking all our citizens in the affected region to listen to their state and local officials as I have instructed FEMA to be ready to assist Hawaii and the rest of the US states and territories that could be affected.The President later provided an update in remarks with reporters:
We currently have an aircraft carrier in Japan and another is on its way. We also have a ship en route to the Mariana Islands to assist as needed. The Defense Department is working to account for all our military personnel in Japan. U.S. embassy personnel in Tokyo have moved to an off-site location, and the State Department is working to account for and assist any and all American citizens who are in the country.The U.S. military is mobilizing additional assets to assist with disaster response, including units stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.