(2/22/10) “Tsunami Advisory” Issued For Washington; Will It Hit Puget Sound?

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NOTE: This story is from Feb., 2010 and is related to a tsunami warning issued after the Chilean earthquake.

We’re pretty sure that the last time a tsunami hit the northwest coast of the U.S. was in 1964, shortly after a major earthquake struck Alaska; far as we know, it damaged some places on the Oregon coast, including Cannon Beach.

Saturday morning (Feb. 27th), imagine our surprise when we saw an “Advisory” posted in our Weather Widget in the right sidebar. Clicking on it revealed that yes, a “Tsunami Advisory” had been issued for the northern and central Washington coast after a huge, 8.8 quake hit Chile´.

We don’t think this is cause for panic in the Puget Sound region, but we wanted to share this info because, well, who knows – maybe a tsunami-based wave will hit the shorelines near Burien? Maybe not?

The advisory warns that, if indeed a tsunami wave makes it up the coast, takes a right turn through the Strait of Juan de Fuca, makes another right and heads down through the upper islands of Puget Sound…when (and if) it hits Pier 48 in Seattle it’s predicted to be .13 feet high, which, according to our rudimentary math skills, equals a measly 1.56 inches high.

According to this NOAA website, the predicted time for this wave to strike Seattle is 1641 PST – for us non-military types, that’s 4:41pm Saturday afternoon.

If you happen to have a video camera and a lot of free time this afternoon, why not hang out near one of Burien’s beaches around 4:30-5pm and see if you can videotape a 1.56 inch wave barreling in from the north? We’d love to post it – please email us if you do!

And if you know anyone who lives on the coast, or in Hawaii, please make sure they’re aware of this advisory, as it could be very serious in those areas.

According to the National Weather Service:

Persons in tsunami advisory areas should move out of the water… off the beach and out of harbors and marinas.

Tsunami advisories mean that a tsunami capable of producing strong currents or waves dangerous to persons in or very near water is imminent or expected. Significant widespread inundation is not expected for areas in an advisory. Tsunamis are a series of waves potentially dangerous several hours after initial arrival time. Estimated times of initial wave arrival for selected sites in the advisory are provided below.

Here’s the “Tsunami Advisory” language as posted at 9:18am:

Tsunami Advisory

Statement as of 9:18 AM PST on February 27, 2010

… A tsunami advisory remains in effect for the northern and central Washington coast…

A tsunami advisory remains in effect for the northern and central Washington coast.

There is no Tsunami Watch or warning in effect for the Washington coast. Repeat… there is no Tsunami Watch or warning in effect.

A powerful 8.8 magnitude earthquake occurred at 1034 PM PDT Friday near the central coast of chile. It has generated a tsunami wave… which is now spreading out across the Pacific Ocean.

The first tsunami waves are expected to reach the Washington coast between 250 PM and 310 PM PST this afternoon. The following are the
estimated arrival times of the first waves.

  • Seaside or… … ..246 PM PST
  • Westport WA… … .257 PM PST
  • Neah Bay WA… … .307 PM PST

The largest tsunami waves are expected two hours after the first arrival.

The waves are not expected to be large enough to cause coastal flooding along the Washington coast. However… some coastal areas could experience dangerous currents and surges in harbors and bays. Forecast tsunami wave amplitudes follow.

  • Long Beach WA… ..0.46 ft
  • Westport… … … .0.78 ft
  • Moclips… … … ..1.27 ft
  • Neah Bay… … … .0.65 ft
  • Port Angeles… … 0.33 ft
  • Bellingham… … ..0.46 ft
  • Everett… … … ..0.13 ft
  • Seattle-pier 48… 0.13 ft

The minimum wave height for a tsunami advisory on the Washington coast is 6 inches or 15 centimeters.

The initial wave will not be the largest. Coastal residents are advised to stay out of the water… off the beach… and away from harbors and marinas. Wave heights and currents are amplified by irregular shoreline and are difficult to predict. The tsunami may not be visible among the common ocean surf… yet tide gages will likely report some fluctuations.

Mariners in water deeper than 600 feet should not be affected by a tsunami.

Repeat… no Tsunami Watch or warning is in effect for the northern and central Washington coast.

And just ‘cuz we found it and we love science, here’s a pretty cool simulation video of what might happen if a tsunami hit Elliott Bay:

UPDATE: 1:45pm PST: So far, no tsunami yet in Hawaii, but this type of rare event is considered and “inexact science.” Here’s a link to a website that’s broadcasting a live TV signal from Hawaii.

Also, here’s the live webcam feed from Burien’s Seahurst Park Beach, just in case; refresh this page to see the latest:

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One Response to “(2/22/10) “Tsunami Advisory” Issued For Washington; Will It Hit Puget Sound?”
  1. Kara says:

    Live a couple of hours away from the coast so not really worried. I do hope this doesn’t end up in damage or preventable deaths.
    Do wish best of luck to the Japanese though. Doesn’t look good over there.

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