Great Japan quake generates 8-foot tsunami in California

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 23:00 GMT le 11 Mars 2011

A great earthquake rocked the coast of Japan at 5:46 GMT on March 11, generating a dangerous tsunami that raced across the Pacific. The mighty earthquake was rated 8.9 on the Richter scale, making it the 7th most powerful tremor in world history. The world's 8th largest earthquake, a magnitude 8.8 event, hit Chile on February 27, 2010; never before have two top-ten earthquakes hit so close together in time. Today's quake was the strongest in Japanese history, and will likely be the most expensive natural disaster in world history, surpassing the $133+ billion dollar price tag from Hurricane Katrina.

Figure 1. Model-computed energy from the March 11, 2011 tsunami as visualized by the NOAA Visualization Lab.

In the U.S., the highest tsunami waves from the earthquake hit northern California and southern Oregon, with a wave height of 8.1 feet observed at Crescent City, CA, 8.6 feet at Port San Luis, CA, 8.7 feet at Arena Cove, CA, and 6.1 feet at Port Orford, OR. The tsunami swept four photographers out to sea in the Crescent City harbor, injuring three of them and leaving one missing. Extensive damage was done to the harbor and 35 boats. Up to $2 million in damage also occurred in the Santa Cruz harbor south of San Francisco.

Figure 2. Tide gauge at Crescent City, CA during the March 11, 2011 tsunami. The green line shows the height of the tsunami wave; the red line shows the observed water level. The highest tsunami wave came at at 17 UTC (9am PST), an hour and 10 minutes after the initial wave, and was 7 feet high. Image credit: NOAA.

Crescent City was hit by a devastating tsunami after the March 28, 1964 magnitude 8.8 earthquake in Alaska, which killed ten people in the city and destroyed much of the business district. The city is fortunate today that the tsunami hit at low tide, or else water levels would have been five feet higher in the city during the wave. The tide gauge at Crescent City, CA (Figure 2) shows that at least 18 separate tsunami waves have hit the harbor as of 2:45pm PST. The first wave came at about 15:50 UTC (7:50am PST), was about 2.5 feet high, and was not preceded by the ocean falling and water being sucked out to sea. After this initial wave, the ocean level dropped rapidly by 8 feet, and then a series of large waves began rushing in and out, with up to a 13 foot difference between low water and high water. The rapid speed of the in-rushing and outflowing waves were what did the damage to the harbor and its boats. The largest wave came at 17 UTC (9am PST), an hour and 10 minutes after the initial wave, and was 8.1 feet high. Fortunately, this wave came near the time of low tide, and the wave was only 2 feet above last night's high tide mark. Tidal range between low and high tide is about 5 feet at Crescent City. The tide is now rising, and new tsunami waves with height of 3 - 4 feet are still rushing in and out, with the one just before 21 UTC (1pm PST) reaching a height about 2 feet above high tide.

Figure 3. Propagation of the March 11, 2011 Honshu tsunami was computed with the NOAA forecast method using the MOST model with the tsunami source inferred from DART® data. From the NOAA Center for Tsunami Research, located at NOAA PMEL in Seattle, WA. is mobilizing to provide financial assistance to people with disabilities affected by the disaster, and there will undoubtedly be a huge relief effort by numerous charities in the wake of the earthquake. Your financial contributions and prayers for those affected will be valuable.

Jeff Masters

Waves (Feather3)
During our tsunami warning that had been downgraded to an advisory, this afternoon. It was getting closer to high tide, but it was strange, watching the surges: one minute, the beach was bare, and within minutes, a surge would build up as wave after wave, low, but surging, would inundate the beaches....more shots to come.

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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When An ill Wind Blows From Afar! Surviving Radioactive Fallout & Radiation Contamination from Japan, Iran or North Korea

There would be justifiable concern for those immediately downwind and thus protective actions that they will need to promptly undertake to protect themselves from radioactive fallout and radiation contamination. Usually either evacuation or sheltering, along with prophylactic Potassium Iodide (KI) for protection against radioactive iodine. (More on that below.) Much further downwind, like here in USA, the effects will be substantially less pronounced, though some measured protective actions, like Potassium Iodide (KI), may be indicated in some areas.

For everyone, though, without the basic knowledge presented here, they risk unnecessary panic that could become even more widespread than the fallout itself.

It's hard to say how much fallout will fall here from overseas, like Japan or Iran or North Korea, until it does, but it's very unlikely that it would ever be enough to require Americans to utilize fallout shelters to survive it, as they would if a nuke was exploded upwind of them right here in America,
as detailed in What To Do If A Nuclear Disaster Is Imminent! at

The fallout threat here in the USA, from an 'event' originating far overseas, like Iran or North Korea or Japan, will be based upon four factors;

- Type and quantity of radioactive isotopes unleashed; nuclear fission bomb(s) and/or nuclear materials facility.
- Resulting plume or mushroom cloud altitude and wind direction and speed.
- Distance and time before arriving at your location.
- Ultimate isotope type and quantity falling out at your specific location.
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1534. Skyepony (Mod)
The Pentagon was expected to announce that the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, which is sailing in the Pacific, passed through a radioactive cloud from stricken nuclear reactors in Japan, causing crew members on deck to receive a month’s worth of radiation in about an hour, government officials said Sunday.

The officials added that American helicopters flying missions about 60 miles north of the damaged reactors became coated with particulate radiation that had to be washed off.

There was no indication that any of the military personnel had experienced ill effects from the exposure. (Everyone is exposed to a small amount of natural background radiation.)

But the episodes showed that the prevailing winds were picking up radioactive material from crippled reactors in northeastern Japan. Ever since an earthquake struck Japan on Friday, the authorities worldwide have been laying plans to map where radioactive plumes might blow and determine what, if any, danger they could pose to people.
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Trading in the Yen would be a good play because of the inflow of much Aid into Japan. Wow, the amount of people in Japan that are affected and the many outside into other countries might really hurt a lot of people........Just my opinon.
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U.S. Stock Futures
Data as of 12:14am ET
S&P -7.70 / -0.59%
Level 1,293.50
Fair Value 1,299.25
Difference -5.75
Nasdaq -12.75 / -0.55%
Level 2,290.00
Fair Value 2,298.13
Difference -8.13
Dow -42.00 / -0.35%
Level 11,961.00

So far futures are not too bad
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Nikkei 225
Data as of 12:06am ET -640.36 / -6.24%
Today’s Change

I wonder if they have things in place to shut down for a cool period if things keep dropping like this!
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Quoting twincomanche:

I agree that I might be a bit snarky however posts here have reached the hysterical level, not based on reason in the last few hours. If I am not allowed to comment on this I will not in the future make any comments about silly remarks made by others. Some here seem to be allowed to be condescending and insulting to others while us peasants are not allowed. I turn over my king and go back to lurking.

I have not seen any Hysteria, I would assume that if any was posted, it would be by someone I can't see.
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Retired: already posted comment
Member Since: 31 décembre 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting JohnTucker:
Hey look at this:

Three Mile Island accident

Consequences of stuck valve

About 130 minutes after the first malfunction, the top of the reactor core was exposed and the intense heat caused a reaction to occur between the steam forming in the reactor core and the Zircaloy nuclear fuel rod cladding, yielding zirconium dioxide, hydrogen, and additional heat. This fiery reaction burned off the nuclear fuel rod cladding, the hot plume of reacting steam and zirconium damaged the fuel pellets which released more radioactivity to the reactor coolant and produced hydrogen gas that is believed to have caused a small explosion in the containment building later that afternoon.

That's what poster #1482 was describing...we need to here more from him/her. It was a first post from a 2002 member. Maybe someone with good knowledge in nuclear physics.......just saying..:)
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1517. sunlinepr 4:19 AM GMT on March 14, 2011

Anyone with a copy of ATP 45C could have gotten the information to make that map.
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Quoting twincomanche:

It will be a great buying opportunity.

I would buy anything for a couple of days until some dust settles......could be looking at a very large drop over the next few days as a lot of things come from Japan that many need and depend upon. A lot of economic impact will be coming from Japan World Wide!
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Someone wrote about that fake fallout map circulating the web

The Japanese nuclear fallout map hoax

What I want to mention here is a hoax which was circulating over the internet this morning which preyed on a lack of common-sense and our worst fears regarding nuclear energy. There were a few thousand hits to this following image which was touted as a Nuclear Fallout Map showing the effect of meltdown and the spread of radiation across the Pacific to North America.

The map looks fishy even from a first glance. It was not issued with any warning, link to a regulatory organization, or press release. It was not vetted by any organization. Instead it contains the logo of "Australian Radiation Services".

A simple search on the internet reveals that this is a small private company in Australia which offers clients services in dealing with legal compliance and radiation monitoring. As fas as I could tell, the handful of employees working here have no expertise in climatology, which would be needed to determine wind strength and other factors necessary to model weather patterns.

Neither would they be expected to have any idea of what state the reactors were in (which was not already a part of the public domain). After all they are not a government regulatory agency!

Lastly, simply googling the numbers would reveal to anyone that they are preposterously high. The total dose per person in a defined area of Europe with closest proximity to the more-serious Chernobyl explosion was predicted to be 0.5 Rads over a period of three weeks of exposure.

The map circulating over the internet showed a ballpark number that was 6,000 times more serious that Chernobyl without any given time-period.

No, what probably happened was some conceited bastard with a lot of time on his hands photoshopped the map from a a screenshot of a Google map and added the Australian Radiation Services logo. All he or she needed to do was to tweet it or post it.

It is probably still out there freaking someone out. Fear always travels faster than rationality.

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OK, it's time for the dumb question of the night.

The Guardian reported just a few minutes ago that "the government's top spokesman, Yukio Edano... told reporters that the head of the plant had told him the reactor and its container vessel were both still intact."

How do they know that? I thought they'd lost all generating and electrical power. How could they do remote monitoring? or any monitoring at all? I may have missed all this earlier in the process....
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Quoting twincomanche:

Oh gosh I didn't mean to hurt your feelings. So sorry.

He has a point... you have a tendency of going off the edge a bit.

1471. twincomanche 3:44 AM GMT on March 14, 2011 Hide this comment.
Come on folks, at this point it's not coming to the US West coast it's not coming to ten miles away from the source. Get a grip.

If you get a major release how is it going to get in the jet stream? What you think this is going to be a atom bomb going off? Hello.
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Quoting twincomanche:

Oh gosh I didn't mean to hurt your feelings. So sorry.

Didnt hurt my feelings, as i agreed with everything you said.........but, others that are new here might not post again when you act like a butt head.
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Quoting Orcasystems:

None of these Reactors are anything like the Chernobyl reactor, there is no comparison what so ever.

3 Mile Island... yes
Chernobyl.... No

True....That's what the posted article says...
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"...a second reactor building at...Fukushima Daiichi...exploded...
...three workers have been injured and seven are missing."
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Quoting Orcasystems:

He is right.. there is absolutely no danger to the CONUS or Canada at this time.

It was the attitude not the info he was posting!
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From BBC: Jane, in Tokyo, writes: "We are still feeling some powerful aftershocks in Tokyo and everyone is on high alert as government warns there is 70% chance of another powerful aftershock happening in capital in the next few days. The commuter trains were completely full and people were being pushed onto the trains by conductors due to the reduced number of trains running from the scheduled power cuts. More people than usual are also choosing to cycle to work if they can. Restaurants, supermarkets and convenience stores are low on stock as deliveries are slow, if any. Though there is a strong sense that people are trying to get on with their lives in any way they can."

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Quoting TampaSpin:

I have hit the blue - and the red ! on your every post! GET IT!!!!!!

He is right.. there is absolutely no danger to the CONUS or Canada at this time.
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Quoting cat5hurricane:
This is no Chernobyl, at least not yet. That's my take thus far.

None of these Reactors are anything like the Chernobyl reactor, there is no comparison what so ever.

3 Mile Island... yes
Chernobyl.... No
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Quoting atmoaggie:
Not at all hard to decouple hydrogen and oxygen on a gas stove. In an enclosed area, a heat source in the presence of enough water or water vapor can separate enough hydrogen, which will concentrate at the top...until boom.

Normally this problem would be removed by hydrogen/oxygen recombiners, but due to possible earthquake damage and loss of all power, these would have been inoperable. It was only a matter of time.
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Quoting deazwe:
The hydrogen is created when the zirconium cladding on the uranium pellets is heated to at least 2000F. At that point the water around the cladding can react with it to form zirconium oxide and hydrogen gas. This is one of the methods by which you determine if you have had a meltdown, by the magnitude of the hydrogen generation.

It is not easy to get hydrogen and oxygen to separate from each other in water. You cannot do it by means of superheating of water, at least by normal or conventional means....

It seems as if you have a lot of knowledge on the subject, please continue with more comments...Thanks
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Quoting twincomanche:

There is no comparison between Chernobyl and Three Mile Island. What are you trying to say?

e·voke (-vk)
tr.v. e·voked, e·vok·ing, e·vokes
1. To summon or call forth: actions that evoked our mistrust.
2. To call to mind by naming, citing, or suggesting: songs that evoke old memories.
3. To create anew, especially by means of the imagination: a novel that evokes the Depression in accurate detail.
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Three Mile Island

In the aftermath of the accident, investigations focused on the amount of radiation released by the accident. The official figures have been disputed by a number of insiders, who have suggested figures hundreds or thousands of times higher (see Three Mile Island accident#Radiation release).

According to the American Nuclear Society, using the relatively low official radiation emission figures, "The average radiation dose to people living within ten miles of the plant was eight millirem, and no more than 100 millirem to any single individual. Eight millirem is about equal to a chest X-ray, and 100 millirem is about a third of the average background level of radiation received by US residents in a year.".[1] [2] To put this dose into context, while the average background radiation in the US is about 360 millirem per year, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulates all workers' of any US nuclear power plant exposure to radiation to a total of 5000 millirem per year.[3] Based on these low emission figures, early scientific publications on the health effects of the fallout estimated one or two additional cancer deaths in the 10-mile area around TMI.[4] Disease rates in areas further than 10 miles from the plant were never examined.[4]
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