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Local News

Tsunami Advisory Canceled for Santa Barbara County

All advisories, warnings lifted for West Coast but authorities warn of continued strong currents, riptides

(NOAA Center for Tsunami Research Video)

Authorities on Saturday canceled the tsunami advisory for the California coastline, but the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Services cautioned that care and vigilance should be taken around the water.

The advisory had been declared early Friday after a violent magnitude 8.9 earthquake in Japan sent tsunami waves racing across the Pacific Rim. Point Conception had been the demarcation point on the West Coast, with the coastline east and south to the Mexico border under a tsunami advisory and the coastline north to the Oregon-Washington border under a higher-level tsunami warning.

Santa Barbara Harbor experienced several tsunami swells Friday, including 15- to 18-inch waves in the first surge at 8:15 a.m. Friday, but no damage was recorded anywhere in the county.

In Northern California, there was extensive damage to boats and harbor infrastructure in Crescent City and Santa Cruz. One man died after being swept out to sea south of Crescent City. Three companions were able to swim to safety.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency Friday in Del Norte, Humboldt, San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties. Experts on Saturday estimated the tsunami caused $50 million in damage in California.

On Saturday, all tsunami advisories, warnings and watches were canceled by the National Weather Service and the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center.

In a statement, the county Office of Emergency Services advised residents and visitors to remain vigilant and cautious around the water.

“Even though underwater currents and riptides have diminished, they are still being registered on tidal gauges up and down the coast, though less frequently and less powerful than previously measured,” said Jay McAmis, an OES spokesman.

The National Weather Service said beaches and harbors will continue to experience unusually strong currents and rapidly rising and lowering water levels Saturday. A moderate size northwest swell and abrupt tidal surges are also expected and dangerous riptides were possible through Sunday.

The 8.9-magnitude earthquake that slammed Japan struck at 2:46 p.m. Friday (10:46 p.m. Thursday Pacific time) and was followed within an hour by five powerful aftershocks, including a magnitude 7.1, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. As of Saturday, nearly 30 aftershocks have been magnitude 6 or higher.

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 12 miles.

As of Sunday, officials said 10,000 people had died in the earthquake and the associated tsunami, a 25-foot wall of water that swept as far as three miles inland. Thousands of people remain missing and more than 1,400 people were injured, officials said.

More than 200,000 people were left homeless and much of northern Japan remains without power. Authorities said as many as 4,000 evacuees are being sheltered in Sendai, with no food, water or heat.

» Click here for additional information, charts, graphics and animation from the the NOAA Center for Tsunami Research.

» Click here for regional maps of recognized tsunami inundation hazard zones in Santa Barbara County.

» Click here for updates from the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center.

» Click here for estimated arrival times of tsunami surges along the West Coast.

» Click here for a map of the Japan earthquake and tsunami.

» Click here for the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Services. Click here to sign up for the OES’ messaging service. Follow the OES on Facebook.

» Twitter hashtags for the Japan earthquake and tsunami include #tsunami, #prayforjapan, #Sendai, #Fukushima, #Guam and #WakeIsland.

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.

The March 11 tsunami's maximum wave amplitude, computed by the NOAA Center for Tsunami Research.
The March 11 tsunami’s maximum wave amplitude, computed by the NOAA Center for Tsunami Research. (NOAA Center for Tsunami Research graphic)

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