Friday, March 11, 2011

Santa Barbara County Residents Warned to Head to Higher Ground

A tsunami, created by the 8.9 earthquake in Japan and traveling at 500 mph, is expected to hit the West Coast of the United States between 11:00 and 11:30 ET. the impact on the West Coast is expected to be strongest in Santa Barbra County. 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.

Tsunami waves have already hit Hawaii. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said Kauai was the first island hit by the tsunami. Officials predicted Hawaii would experience waves as tall as 6 feet.

Tsunami wanings have been issued for over 50 countries.


  1. If the waves are only 6ft in Hawaii I doubt they're going to be of any significance by the time they reach the Left Coast. This is government officials trying to puff up their chests and look important and helpful in the wake of the 2004 tsunamis so that people will think, "Wow, that was money well spent on all of these new tsunami detection systems and bureaucracies!"

  2. Taylor, I'm afraid this is one time you're off the mark slightly. The height of the waves reducing has little to do with distance from quake. It has everything to do with the shallowness of the preceding conitnental shelf. The shallower the shelf, the higher the wave. So islands with deep shelves around them escape ubscathed. Tsunami waves are barely a few inches tall on open seas.

  3. Anon,

    I concede I blew it. You're correct about the wave dynamism physics. I also found out in another EPJ post that some people got swept out to sea. So I blew it on two counts.

    In my defense, I know enough surfers from my hometown that, while I would prefer not to go out into the surf when it's 6ft high (though I've done so), my surfer friends always looked at that height as ideal and described them as "killer waves" (not deadly, but awesome/radical), so it didn't seem that terrifying or risky to me.

    But I forget many people don't understand the ocean and can't swim confidently and are often taken by surprise by things like this. Not sure what they're doing in the ocean in the first place but that's what happens.