Friday, March 11, 2011

Tsunami!

Tsunami! And an earthquake calculated at a magnitude of 8.9, one of the largest ever measured.

Just in case you haven't been following the news, no, that's not here. The earthquake was under the sea some 400 km. east of Japan, and the first wave of the tsunami hit Sendai, on Japan's eastern shore, with a 20 foot wall of water, sweeping houses, trucks, boats and debris far inland. An oil refinery was damaged and is burning out of control. Huge tracts of farmland in the delta were destroyed; salted, oiled, covered with debris, churned up, the greenhouses demolished; this will have severe repercussions on the population later on.

Japan is accustomed to earthquakes, and the buildings are built to resist them. Still, in the videos from the air, you can see entire houses being swept along on the wave, some of them burning as they go.

Now, as Sendai catches its breath, other earthquakes have struck. Smaller ones, but still dangerous around a magnitude of 6 or more. More are expected. And the tsunami moves on, heading south towards the rest of Japan, then,
A TSUNAMI WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR JAPAN / RUSSIA / MARCUS IS. / N. MARIANAS / GUAM / WAKE IS. / TAIWAN / YAP / PHILIPPINES / MARSHALL IS. / BELAU / MIDWAY IS. / POHNPEI / CHUUK / KOSRAE / INDONESIA / PAPUA NEW GUINEA / NAURU / JOHNSTON IS. / SOLOMON IS. / KIRIBATI / HOWLAND-BAKER / HAWAII / TUVALU / PALMYRA IS. / VANUATU / TOKELAU / JARVIS IS. / WALLIS-FUTUNA / SAMOA / AMERICAN SAMOA / COOK ISLANDS / NIUE / AUSTRALIA / FIJI / NEW CALEDONIA / TONGA / MEXICO / KERMADEC IS / FR. POLYNESIA / NEW ZEALAND / PITCAIRN / GUATEMALA / EL SALVADOR / COSTA RICA / NICARAGUA / ANTARCTICA / PANAMA / HONDURAS / CHILE / ECUADOR / COLOMBIA / PERU
(from here

From Twitter (GrrlScientist),
red cross says biggest worry now is tsunamis could be taller than some pacific islands
and I see the name, Kiribati, in the list of warnings. Remember Kiribati? NPR had a story on it recently; the sea has been swallowing the atoll nation. Average height above sea level: 6.5 feet. Even a tiny tsunami would be frightening there.

These small island nations, including Indonesia, are not as prepared for a tsunami as Japan is; some people may not even hear the warnings. This is worrisome.

Hawaii is evacuating low-lying shores. The tsunami will be smaller by the time it gets there, but still may be dangerous. They still have a few hours to batten things down and get out of range. What may be a factor in the height of the waves is that they suffered a small earthquake a couple of hours ago, too.

And then, on to the west coast of South America, hopefully weakened enough to simulate a high tide, and not much more. If and when it gets here, around 5:30 this morning, we may not even notice; 1 foot rise is predicted.

I've been watching the news unfold all night, on AlJazeera English, and BBC News, and on Twitter. The full impact, even limited to the first strike, will not be known, though, for weeks.

Update, also from GrrlScientist:
coolant H2O cannot be pumped into tokyo power company no1 nuclear reactor, now experiencing nuclear emergency situation @
Update #2: First wave at Midway was 8 feet high. About 1900 km northeast of Hawaii.

This is going to be a very difficult time for many people. I hope there will be some way for us to help.

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for this post. You did a great recap and certainly showed how wide-reaching this event can be...

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's scary, isn't it? The water is hitting the entire ocean, even as far as B.C. coast.
    We've had rain for days. Hubby thought we might build a moat!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm to grieve for our brothers in japan. In eastern Indonesia was also affected by tsunami.
    Thanks

    ReplyDelete

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