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Local News

Tsunami Warning Issued for Santa Barbara after 8.9 Japan Quake

Devastating earthquake triggers 13-foot tsunami in Japan

Santa Barbara and a large swath of the Pacific Rim were on alert for tsunami surges Friday after a powerful 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck in the Pacific Ocean off Japan. Along Japan’s northeastern coastline, the quake triggered a 13-foot tsunami that swept miles inland.

After assessing additional data, the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center early Friday issued a tsunami warning for the entire West Coast.

Authorities said tsunami waves are expected to hit Port San Luis at 8:09 a.m. Friday, Santa Barbara Harbor at 8:17 a.m., Santa Monica and San Pedro at 8:32 a.m., Newport Beach at 8:39 a.m. and La Jolla at 8:48 a.m. The size of the surge has not yet been determined.

The tsunami warning area also includes all of Hawaii’s islands, and officials at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said waves could hit the islands at 2:59 a.m. local time (4:59 a.m. Pacific time). Authorities said the tsunami is expected to generate waves as high as 8 feet, but not a solid “wall” of water. Residents were warned to remain at least 100 yards away from the shore.

Japan, Guam, Indonesia, Marcus Island, the Northern Marianas, the Philippines, Russia and Taiwan are also in the danger zone.

The earthquake slammed Japan at 2:46 p.m. Friday (10:46 p.m. Thursday Pacific time) and it was followed by five powerful aftershocks, including a magnitude-7.1, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The USGS said the earthquake was the world’s fifth strongest recorded quake since 1900.

The quake’s epicenter was 81 miles off the coast of Sendai, the capital of Miyagi prefecture, and it struck at a depth of 15 miles.

Early details were sketchy but there were reports of widespread and devastating damage from the quake, including at least five deaths and dozens of injuries. Airports were closed, the country’s bullet train services were suspended, and as many as 4 million people were without power in Tokyo. Fires sparked by the quake were burning throughout the region.

Live TV coverage showed dozens of cars, boats and even buildings being carried along by a 13-foot tsunami surge. The waves swept a large ship into a breakwater in Kesennuma north of Tokyo.

Click here for the county Office of Emergency Services. Click here to sign up for the OES’ messaging service. Follow the OES on Facebook.

Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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