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Posted at 11:30 AM ET, 03/11/2011

The tsunami's path and progress to Hawaii, California, Oregon and other U.S. sites

By Jason Samenow

The extraordinary earthquake that devastated parts of coastal Japan this morning has triggered tsunami activity currently propagating across the Pacific ocean. Fifty countries are under tsunami warnings. At the same time, a flood of information is pushing through cyberspace that could easily overwhelm anyone seeking the basic facts. Let's break down what we know based on information from sources we trust.

What is a tsunami?

NOAA's National Ocean Service writes: "Tsunamis are giant waves caused by earthquakes or volcanic eruptions under the sea. Out in the depths of the ocean, tsunami waves do not dramatically increase in height. But as the waves travel inland, they build up to higher and higher heights as the depth of the ocean decreases. The speed of tsunami waves depends on ocean depth rather than the distance from the source of the wave. Tsunami waves may travel as fast as jet planes over deep waters, only slowing down when reaching shallow waters."

More information

When will the tsunami affect different areas?

The tsunami is already coming shore across portion of the U.S. West Coast including California and Oregon and will continue to do so through early this afternoon eastern time. It will impact the Alaska coastline through this evening. A complete listing of the time of arrival for the tsunami at different West Coast points is available at NOAA or keep reading after the jump for the full list for U.S. coastal locations.

The Weather Channel reported the first waves reached the Oregon coast around 11 a.m. ET.

Recent Tweets from The Weather Channel also indicate the following:

* Some of the West Coast tsunami reports....Charleston, OR: 1.6ft, Crescent City, Calif. 3.7ft, Arena Cove, Calif. 2.7 ft

* From NWS in Los Angeles: Tsunami currents impacting Santa Cruz, Calif. with boat and dock damage.

* At 11:30 a.m.: Tsunami arriving in Southern California right now and threat will continue for several hours.

Here is a video of the predicted propagation (forward progression) of the tsunami across the Pacific ocean from NOAA.

The tsunami hit the coast of Hawaii earlier this morning with a wave height of over three feet.

What are the estimated wave heights for U.S. West Coast?

AccuWeather has a list of projected wave heights which range from 2 to 8 feet in California and Oregon.

See also this incredible visual of wave height propagation forecast from NOAA.

Projected tsunami arrival times:

Add three hours to Pacific time (PST) to convert to Eastern Time (EST) and add four hours to convert from Alaska time (AKST) to EST. Subtract five hours to convert UTC to Eastern time

Charleston, Oregon 0715 PST MAR 11 1515 UTC MAR 11
Cascade Head, Oregon (70 miles SW of Portland) 0716 PST MAR 11 1516 UTC MAR 11
Douglas/Lane County Line, Oregon (10 miles SW o 0717 PST MAR 11 1517 UTC MAR 11
Cape Mendocino, California 0717 PST MAR 11 1517 UTC MAR 11
Tillamook Bay, Oregon 0718 PST MAR 11 1518 UTC MAR 11
Horse Mountain, California (50 miles SW of Eure 0719 PST MAR 11 1519 UTC MAR 11
Fort Bragg, California 0721 PST MAR 11 1521 UTC MAR 11
Humboldt Bay, California 0722 PST MAR 11 1522 UTC MAR 11
the Oregon-California border 0723 PST MAR 11 1523 UTC MAR 11
Crescent City, California 0723 PST MAR 11 1523 UTC MAR 11
Seaside, Oregon 0724 PST MAR 11 1524 UTC MAR 11
Westport, Washington 0725 PST MAR 11 1525 UTC MAR 11
Newport, Oregon 0726 PST MAR 11 1526 UTC MAR 11
Point Arena, California 0726 PST MAR 11 1526 UTC MAR 11
Gualala Point, California (80 miles NW of San F 0727 PST MAR 11 1527 UTC MAR 11
Point Reyes, California 0739 PST MAR 11 1539 UTC MAR 11
Davenport, California (10 miles NW of Santa Cru 0739 PST MAR 11 1539 UTC MAR 11
Point Sur, California 0742 PST MAR 11 1542 UTC MAR 11
Astoria, Oregon 0744 PST MAR 11 1544 UTC MAR 11
Monterey, California 0744 PST MAR 11 1544 UTC MAR 11
Port Angeles, Washington 0748 PST MAR 11 1548 UTC MAR 11
Ragged Point, California (45 miles NW of San Lu 0750 PST MAR 11 1550 UTC MAR 11
DART 46412 0752 PST MAR 11 1552 UTC MAR 11
Point Concepcion, California 0757 PST MAR 11 1557 UTC MAR 11
Port San Luis, California 0803 PST MAR 11 1603 UTC MAR 11
Bella Bella, British Columbia 0805 PST MAR 11 1605 UTC MAR 11
San Francisco, California 0808 PST MAR 11 1608 UTC MAR 11
Cape Newenham, Alaska 0716 AKST MAR 11 1616 UTC MAR 11
Santa Barbara, California 0817 PST MAR 11 1617 UTC MAR 11
Rincon Point, California (15 miles SE of Santa 0828 PST MAR 11 1628 UTC MAR 11
Santa Monica, California 0831 PST MAR 11 1631 UTC MAR 11
San Pedro, California 0832 PST MAR 11 1632 UTC MAR 11
Newport Beach, California 0837 PST MAR 11 1637 UTC MAR 11
La Jolla, California 0841 PST MAR 11 1641 UTC MAR 11
Seattle, Washington 0844 PST MAR 11 1644 UTC MAR 11
Alamitos Bay, California (20 miles SE of L.A.) 0846 PST MAR 11 1646 UTC MAR 11
the California-Mexico border 0847 PST MAR 11 1647 UTC MAR 11
Hooper Bay, Alaska 0846 AKST MAR 11 1746 UTC MAR 11
Little Diomede Island, Alaska 0856 AKST MAR 11 1756 UTC MAR 11
Dillingham, Alaska 0938 AKST MAR 11 1838 UTC MAR 11
Nome, Alaska 1051 AKST MAR 11 1951 UTC MAR 11
Unalakleet, Alaska 1422 AKST MAR 11 2322 UTC MAR 11

Please feel free to share links, video and photos of interesting or important coverage of the earthquake and tsunami in the comment area below.

By Jason Samenow  | March 11, 2011; 11:30 AM ET
Categories:  Environment, Latest  
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Next: The "SuperMoon" and the Japan earthquake

Comments

It's really nice not to live near an active fault line.
Something to keep in mind when feeling the urge to whine about the DC "snow hole" or the swamp heat summers.

Posted by: FIREDRAGON47 | March 11, 2011 12:28 PM | Report abuse

@FIREDRAGON47
First earthquake I ever felt was in McLean. We get mild ones every few years. Charleston SC had a big one in the mid 1800s that was felt in Boston.

And then there's the New Madrid fault...

Posted by: wiredog | March 11, 2011 12:34 PM | Report abuse

First earthquake I ever felt was the one last year that was centered in Germantown, MD.

It was tiny, a 2 or something like that, but it freaked me out enough to know I don't wanna be in any sort of earthquake ever again.

Posted by: wadejg | March 11, 2011 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Never knew a tsunami was a weather event. I was sure it would appear Arts & Living.

Posted by: jeadpt | March 11, 2011 1:34 PM | Report abuse

I can see the coast from my office; everything is calm and the arrival time of the tsunami has passed. Meanwhile, it is clear and it will be about 75 degrees today so I will be staying in California for the foreseeable future!

Posted by: socaloralpleazer | March 11, 2011 1:36 PM | Report abuse

The Japanese footage has been vivid--almost humorous, seeing all those Toyotas, Hondas, Nissans, etc. floating down the streets, going over Niagara-like waterfalls, even being washed out to sea & mixing with boats & debris.

Share prices of Munich Re and other big reinsurance companies are taking a big hit in stock markets worldwide. Insurance companies may be using this as an excuse to stick us with big premium increases. This is adding to the uncertainty over oil prices due to events in the Middle East.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | March 11, 2011 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Having visited Cannon Beach OR, I saw they evacuated last night. Hope the waves weren't too high there....

Posted by: maestrojmk | March 11, 2011 2:21 PM | Report abuse

I presume we'll see a small rise in the Atlantic / Chesapeake / Tidal Potomac as well? I read about that during the last one.

Posted by: eric654 | March 11, 2011 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Brian-CapitalWeatherGang | March 11, 2011 2:43 PM | Report abuse

"The Japanese footage has been vivid--almost humorous, seeing all those Toyotas, Hondas, Nissans, etc. floating down the streets, going over Niagara-like waterfalls, even being washed out to sea & mixing with boats & debris."

Not very humorous when you consider that there are probably a few dead bodies floating with the Hondas, Nissans, etc.

Posted by: fallguy51 | March 11, 2011 2:53 PM | Report abuse

The Japanese footage has been vivid--almost humorous, seeing all those Toyotas, Hondas, Nissans, etc. floating down the streets, going over Niagara-like waterfalls, even being washed out to sea & mixing with boats & debris.

Hundreds, perhaps thousands of people are dead and you find the situation humorous? Says a lot about you as a person.

Posted by: Axel2 | March 11, 2011 2:58 PM | Report abuse

I can see the coast from my office; everything is calm and the arrival time of the tsunami has passed. Meanwhile, it is clear and it will be about 75 degrees today so I will be staying in California for the foreseeable future!

Posted by: socaloralpleazer | March 11, 2011 1:36 PM

==============================================================================

No that is not possible, according to the weather alarmists....you should be affected by the enormous waves of 3ft! Never mind that in Hawaii, while cameras were trained on the island coast with a little timer counting down in the lower corner of TV screens, when the tsunami was expected to arrive we actually saw nothing of significance happen.

Seriously people.... a doomsday countdown clock this morning... and nothing happened??? 2-3 ft wave increases is more akin to a tropical depression... but without the wind and rain.

What a fuss about nothing. I am really sorry for those in Japan... but what we heard this morning for Hawaii and the west coast is a little boy crying wolf.

Posted by: alutz08 | March 11, 2011 3:04 PM | Report abuse

For everyone downplaying the impact on our coasts, there's one dead and one missing in California. 2 more were swept out to sea but rescued. And, there's a lot of boatowners that are going to be running to their insurance agents.

http://www.ktvu.com/video/27163081/index.html

Posted by: Brian-CapitalWeatherGang | March 11, 2011 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Where's Pat Robertson saying this is God's vengeful wrath for cheap electronics and eating raw fish?

Posted by: areyousaying | March 11, 2011 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, really, what a fuss about nothing. I mean, it's not like anyone was ever harmed by a big wave that they weren't warned about. Why do we even spend money to have a state-of-the-art tsunami warning system in the Pacific? And it's just like the story about the little boy intentionally telling falsehoods so he could see the villagers run around!

Posted by: GomerGross | March 11, 2011 3:14 PM | Report abuse

To those crying fowl or wolf about the U.S. evacuations, you don't know what's going to hit until it hits. How stupid and senseless it would be to not have taken preparations and to discover a more severe situation with potentially high and senseless loss of life. A few years ago I visited the site in Hilo, HI commemorating where a bunch of children got swept away in a tsunami in 1960. Disaster preparedness means being prepared, and it's a much better scenario to be inconvenienced by evacuating for a while than to do nothing and take a huge chance on populations of people with one of the largest earthquakes in history. My thoughts are with all faced with unpredictable circumstances, rescue, and recovery amidst this huge natural disaster.

Posted by: Kellygirl | March 11, 2011 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Why do we even spend money to have a state-of-the-art tsunami warning system in the Pacific?

--- GomerGross

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Nobody spent $$ in the Indian Ocean on an early warning system and 200,000+ people were killed in the 2004 tsunami.

A tsunami is not a simple wave you see @ the beach. It's more like a sudden rise in sea level and has much more energy than a wave. Even a 3' tsunami packs a lot of punch and can easily kill you.

Posted by: kperl | March 11, 2011 11:18 PM | Report abuse

I'm *really* surprised at some of the bordering-on-nasty comments here re the fate of people in harms way.

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | March 11, 2011 11:54 PM | Report abuse

With each big quake, California's turn to get the big one nears.

Posted by: blasmaic | March 12, 2011 12:56 AM | Report abuse

@waterfrontproperty

Yep. That's why I hate the internet sometimes. Mean-spiritedness abounds.

Posted by: natsncats | March 12, 2011 1:00 AM | Report abuse

First quake I ever felt was when I was in college (in NE Indiana) eating dinner in the cafeteria. We noticed the water in the glasses 'jiggling', and we felt a small vibration. Later that evening, we found out a medium-sized quake (4.0-5.0 or so on the Richter scale) had hit Southern Illinois, about 300 miles distant.

The quake kind of surprised us that we felt it so far away, and then we considered how the New Madrid quakes would have affected life in the entire Mid-West in the early 19th century, and how those types of quakes would affect the Mid-West 160 years later.

Posted by: critter69 | March 12, 2011 4:09 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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