Pacific Coast Writer Prepares for Tsunami

Steven Bird, writer, outdoor advocate, and regular contributor was seaside Friday when warnings of an earthquake-induced tsunami heading for California sounded in coastal towns.

“5:15 AM. Rumor of a ┬átsunami coming in, so at about 10 feet above sea level and only about 2 blocks from the beach, we’re preparing to head for higher ground. See what happens. I’ll check in later,” Bird reported in a text message earlier.

Japan had just experienced a big one, greater than the 1906 in San Francisco, and calculated larger than the devastating quake in Haiti recently. Japan sits on a tectonic plate of rock that slowly slides under the North American plate. What happened this morning shifted Japan’s Sendai community 50 feet while triggering tsunami alarms in North American shoreline areas. The big bathtub of the Pacific rocked.

The 8.9-magnitude earthquake that struck Japan early Friday risked causing a powerful tsunami the U.S. National Weather Service warned, alerting at least 50 regions around the Pacific. Four foot waves induced by the earthquake have been reaching shores, though in some areas this size is typical for the season.

“We stayed awake all night, the emergency sirens blaring continuously, creating a panic sense of urgency. Just before unplugging the notebook I left the message here. The phone rang through the night and morning with friends,” Bird wrote in an update.

“We had a 3-4 foot sea rise. And that has considerable energy behind it. The beaches were flattened and soil above the beaches eroded. A couple of people were pulled off the beach up the coast at McKinley. Some boats in the harbor were damaged.

“For perspective: a 7 foot sea rise would have taken out the town. Some news sources last night were postulating a 30 foot rise, so you can imagine our concern there for awhile. About 120 years ago, before there was a town here, this part of the coast took a 80-100 foot wave that would have put our present home under 60-80 feet of water. It’s only a matter of time.”

When the warning sirens start, Bird suggests packing light, “First thing I grabbed was the notebook. Then my guitar and the photo albums. Threat of an incoming tsunami sure organizes your priorities quickly.”


Steven Bird 3/11/11 for Read more of Steven’s stories and link to his site.

One Response to “Pacific Coast Writer Prepares for Tsunami”
  1. Gaboo says:

    Heard that quake is upgraded to a 9.1 in Japan. Looks like significant damage, with waves reaching along California coast, such a distance.Thanks for your perspective and sharing what you’re seeing.

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