Skip to: [ search ] [ menus ] [ content ] Select style [ Aqua ] [ Citrus ] [ Fire ] [ Orange ] [ show/hide more content ]

9.0-magnitude quake hits Japan, damages CA

In all of my life, I never heard of an 8.9-magnitude earthquake.

Until today….

And sometimes, all that it takes to remind us that we share one world is a tsunami….

An 8.9-magnitude temblor with an epicenter near the east coast of Japan killed hundreds of people there and caused tsunami waves that swept 30-foot walls of water across cities, washed away houses, and tossed cars, trucks, and large ships around like they were a child’s toys. Mere hours later, the same tsunami waves damaged 30-40 boats worth $5 million in Santa Cruz, CA and caused an estimated $10 million in damage to Santa Cruz harbor facilities. Later estimates from the harbor show that 20 boats sank, including houseboats, and that there was damage to 100 vessels. As in Japan, it may be awhile before the full extent of damages is known.

(Note added March 15, 2011: Yesterday, the U.S. Geological Survey revised the magnitude of the quake upward to 9.0, so I have revised the title of this entry.)

In all, powerful waves damaged ports and harbors in FOUR Northern California counties today and are believed to have killed one California man taking photos, when he and his two companions were swept away by a huge wave. His two companions swam to safety, near the mouth of the Klamath River just off the coast of Crescent City, CA, near the Oregon border. An 8-foot wave rushed into the harbor and destroyed 35 boats and portions of docks. California governor Jerry Brown has issued a state of emergency for Santa Cruz, San Mateo, Del Norte, and Humboldt counties. In the charming fishing community of Fort Bragg, where I once vacationed with my family, waves ripped out docks and filled the water with debris that closed all entrances and exits to the port.

Although the tsunami raced across the Pacific Ocean at 500 miles/hour, radio waves traveled far faster from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. The first sirens sounded in Hawaii later Thursday night. Early Friday, when the tsunami waves reached Hawaii, water rushed into hotels on the Big Island, waves carried a house out to sea, and seven-foot waves flooded low-lying areas on Maui. Outside Brookings, Oregon, four people were swept out to sea by big waves – two got out on their own and the other two were rescued.

In Japan, some waves rushed 6 miles (10 km) inland in Miyagi Prefecture on the east coast of Japan. The epicenter of the main quake was located off Miagi Prefecture, about 230 miles (370 km) northeast of Tokyo, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), which presents several maps, including one of a LARGE cluster of aftershocks, at least one of which is listed as magnitude 7.1. An oil refinery was burning in Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo, and there were extensive areas of fire in Kesennuma in Miyagi. In Minamisoma in Fukushima Prefecture, only concrete and steel building survived, and no people were visible in the streets. Also in Fukushima Prefecture, a dam broke and washed away 1,800 homes, with no estimate of casualties.

Kyodo News, citing Japan’s nuclear safety agency, said that radiation levels were 1,000 times above normal in the control room of Fukushima Daiichi power plant’s nuclear reactors, after the power company had been ordered to open a relief valve to relieve growing pressure. The plant is run by Tokyo Electric Power and located about 160 miles (260 km) north of Tokyo. The cooling system at three units of the Fukushima Daini nuclear plant, which is distinct from the Fukushima Daiichii  nuclear reactors, also failed and caused that electric plant to the emergency list.

The confirmed death toll, as reported by CNN, and according to Kyodo, stood at 202 in nine prefectures, not counting 200-300 bodies of people drowned in Senai, Miyagi Prefecture. According to police in Japan, 427 people were confirmed dead and more than 740 people were missing. Some 60,000 to 70,000 people were being evacuated to shelters in the Sendai area of Miyagi Prefecture.

Google, based in Mountain View, CA, launched a Person Finder: 2011 Japan Earthquake, once again helping relatives and friends find their loved ones and allowing other to report information about someone in areas affected by the largest earthquake in Japan’s recorded history.

(Note added March 12, 2011: More on the U.S. impacts of tsunami waves is here.)

-Bill at

Cheshire Cat Photo™ – “Your Guide to California’s Wonderland™”

You can view higher-resolution photos (*generally* 7-30 megabytes, compressed) at the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Pro Gallery on Shutterfly™, where you can also order prints and gifts decorated with the photos of your choice from the gallery. The Cheshire Cat Photo Store on Zazzle contains a wide variety of apparel and gifts decorated with our images of California. Framed prints and prints on canvas can be ordered from our galleries on redbubble®. All locations are accessible from here. Be a “Facebook Fan” of Cheshire Cat Photo here! If you don’t see what you want or would be on our email list for updates, send us an email at


No Comments to “9.0-magnitude quake hits Japan, damages CA”

  (RSS feed for these comments)

You must be logged in to post a comment.

InspectorWordpress has prevented 52153 attacks.
Get Adobe Flash player