Earthquake News

The first tsunami on the Washington coast was 1.7 feet in La Push.

The sole indication that a tsunami had arrived in Washington on Friday morning was violent waves akin to any rainy day on the coast.

The first wave of the tsunami to reach the Washington Coast shortly after 7 a.m. measured 1.7 feet in La Push, nearly half a foot at Neah Bay and Port Angeles, and 1.3 feet at Westport, according to the National Weather Service.

The tsunami warning for the Washington coast remained in place, and further waves were forecast, according to Kirby Cook, science and operations officer for the National Weather Service in Seattle. More waves were crashing in California, which suggested that Washington and Oregon might be in for more.

Cook said the caution would be in place until the tsunami center in Alaska called it off. An 8.9-magnitude earthquake in Japan generated the waves.

Around 60 individuals had been evacuated to Moclips' Grays Harbor Fire District No. 8. Cathy Bisiack, a volunteer fireman, said a group of primarily elderly citizens were eating pancakes and watching the news on TV when the waves began to reach the Washington Coast.

The tsunami in Alaska created a 5 foot wave near Shemya in the Aleutian Islands, 1,200 miles southwest of Anchorage.

Residents around Moclips, Pacific Beach, Iron Springs, and Taholah were instructed to relocate to higher ground during the alert, according to the Grays Harbor Emergency Management agency.

According to Harper, the Quinault Indians were considering limited evacuations in the Taholah region. Members of the Makah and Hoh Indian tribes were coordinating their public safety efforts with Jefferson County further north.1

Sheriff Scott Johnson of Pacific County in southwest Washington said the county activated its reverse 911 system, calling residents on the coast and in low-lying regions and advising them to relocate to higher ground.

In response to the advice, an orderly evacuation began before morning in Long Beach, Ilwaco, and Ocean Park, according to Johnson.

"We don't want to cry wolf," he explained. "We simply have to hope that based on our information, we're doing the correct thing." We don't want to be incorrect and endanger or kill people.

"This is the second occasion in the previous 25-30 years that I've been engaged in an evacuation for this reason," the sheriff remarked.

Within minutes, a steady stream of automobiles arrived at Mark and Vicki Whitman's combined store and gas station on the outskirts of town. "People are grabbing petrol to get the hell out," Mark Whitman explained.

Hundreds of automobiles lined the shoulders of Highway 101 on the nearest higher land accessible, about 4 miles east of Long Beach.

"I'm not too concerned, but we live near enough to the shore that I decided we may as well go and be safe," said Mary Hersey, a Long Beach peninsula resident of 20 years. Hersey said it only took her a few minutes to grab her two dogs, cat, daughter, and grandson and leave for high ground after hearing the alert.

Despite this, many people remained in Long Beach, observing that the tsunami alarm had not gone off.

Joanne Black packed some clothing, food, and other supplies in her trunk outside her house, but claimed she wouldn't leave unless she heard the situation worsened.

At Ilwaco Middle/High School, the area's designated evacuation site during emergencies, between 400-500 evacuaees spent the night.

"Some of the people were really frightened. You can imagine being awakened in the middle of the night and you hear tsunami and you don't know what's going on," said Marc Simmons, a co-principal at the school.

Television news coverage heightened their concern, he said.

Some Long Beach residents remarked that first news from Hawaii suggested the tsunami would not be as massive as initially anticipated.

The beach's access routes were closed, but the beach was largely, but not fully, vacant.

The editor of the local weekly, the Chinook Observer, Matt Winters, saw the wave movement from a walkway above the beach and reported he saw nothing remarkable. On the beach, there was also a jogger with a dog.

The peninsula's major roadways remained open.

"I think the images of what happened in Japan made people wonder, 'How horrible would it be if we received even half of that?'"

Some of the most anxious students at the school were relieved to have a place to go and somebody to talk to, according to Simmons.

Classes were canceled for the day, but many school personnel showed up to assist individuals who had to leave their houses.

The school gave food that would have been served at school on Friday to the evacuees.

Early news that the waves in Hawaii were not as large as expected calmed many down.

Whatever the magnitude of the wave that strikes the coast, it might be compounded by the tide, which is low this morning but rising as the day progresses, according to Harper. Residents near beaches on the Oregon coast were evacuated Friday morning, and souvenir shops and other businesses remained closed as a tsunami swept over the Pacific following a huge earthquake in Japan.

Some Seaside refugees drove onto a mountainous region above town to await the forecasted huge waves, which were scheduled to reach the Oregon coast between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m.

Restaurants, gift stores, and other tourist businesses were closed, and hotels were evacuated.

Parts of numerous coastal settlements have been evacuated.

As locals moved higher ground, eastbound traffic was observed on several routes along the ocean, and large lineups were reported at some petrol stations.

Coastal villages were braced for 6-foot-high waves that might inflict devastation.

Mike Fancher, who is visiting Cannon Beach from Seattle, said the downtown was evacuated at 6:20 a.m. Friday, but everything else was quiet.

Schools were closed all along the coast. Gov. John Kitzhaber released a statement asking "all Oregonians near the coast to heed tsunami warnings and obey public safety authorities' advice about moving to higher ground."

According to Alaska Emergency Management, the tsunami created a 5.1-foot wave in Shemya, a 1.5-foot wave at Adak, and a 1.6-foot wave at Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands. Shemya is approximately 1,200 kilometers southwest of Anchorage.

According to Emergency Management Specialist David Lee at Fort Richardson, there have been no reports of damage and no considerable damage is projected along Alaska's coast, however this may still depend on the surge in different regions.

The Alaska Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami warning for Alaska's coastal areas from Attu to Amchitka Pass in the Aleutians, as well as an advisory from Amchitka Pass to Oregon.

On the Washington coast, Seattle Times staff reporter Jack Broom contributed to this article.

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