SANTA MONICA —On February 27, tsunami waves generating from Chile’s recent 8.8 magnitude earthquake have hit the Santa Monica shoreline; however, no injuries or damage have been reported.
According to the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center, Chile’s major earthquake produced a tsunami that caused water to surge at about 2.3 feet in Santa Monica just before 12:30 p.m. Surfers in the area, who had apparently ignored high surf warnings, apparently were not alarmed by the strong waves. The Santa Monica Police Department reported no significant problems.
Tsunamis are considered relatively rare in California, with the most devastating incident occurring in 1964, when an 9.2 earthquake in Alaska caused tsunami surges that brought 12 deaths in Northern California.
The West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center’s Web site describes a tsunami as a series of waves of extremely long wave length and of a long period caused by an impulsive disturbance that displaces the water. The site also states that landslides, volcanic eruptions, nuclear explosions and even impacts of objects from outer space such as meteorites, asteroids, and comets may also cause tsunamis. Their lengths from crest to crest can measure at a hundred miles or more, and their heights from crest to trough will only be a few feet or less. They cannot be felt aboard ships or can be seen from the air in open oceans. In the deepest oceans, the waves reach speeds past 600 miles per hour. When the tsunami enters the shoaling water of coastline in its path, the velocity of its waves decreases and the height of the waves increases. In these shallow waters, a large tsunami can crest to heights of over 100 feet and strike with devastating force, according to the Web site.
The site further states that a tsunami can be spawned by any disturbance that displaces a large water mass from its equilibrium position. Submarine landslides, which often occur during a massive earthquake, can churn a tsunami.
The Web site lists the following safety measures and precautions for individuals who want to prepare for a tsunami emergency:
1) Never go down to the beach to watch for a tsunami. If you are able to see the wave, you are too close to escape. Tsunamis can also move faster than a person can run.
2) During the event that a tsunami does occur, your local emergency management office, police, fire and other emergency organizations will try to save your life, so always adhere to their directions and give them your fullest cooperation.
3) Homes and other buildings located in low-lying coastal regions are not safe, so do not stay in these buildings if there is a tsunami warning. The upper floors of high-muli-story, reinforced concrete hotels can provide refuge if there is no time to quickly move inland or to higher ground.
4) If you are on a boat or ship and there is time, move your vessel to deeper water, (at least 100 fathoms). If it is a case in which there is concurrent severe weather, it may be safer to leave the boat at the pier and physically move to higher ground.
5) Because damaging wave activity and unpredictable currents can affect harbor conditions for a period of time after the tsunami’s initial impact, so be sure that conditions are safe before you return your boat or ship to the harbor.
6) Stay tuned to your local radio, marine radio, NOAA Weather radio, or television stations during a tsunami emergency. Bulletins issued through your local emergency management office and National Weather Service offices can save your life.