At 9:46pm a very destructive earthquake struck off the coast of Honshu, Japan at an estimated magnitude of 8.9. So far, there are limited reports of damage and casualties coming from the area. As far as earthquakes go, this is a big one. Any quake above an 8.0 is considered a “great quake,” and this would be rated as the 7th largest earthquake in recorded history. Most notably, this earthquake has generated a number of tsunamis throughout the pacific region. If you are in Hawai’i or other islands in the Pacific, please make sure to listen to emergency reports. The pacific tsunami warning center (http://www.weather.gov/ptwc/) has updated information and details.
USA Today Reports, “The quake struck at a depth of six miles, about 80 miles off the eastern coast, the agency said. The area is 240 miles northeast of Tokyo. In downtown Tokyo, large buildings shook violently and workers poured into the street for safety. TV footage showed a large building on fire and bellowing smoke in the Udayba district of Tokyo. In central Tokyo, trains were stopped and passengers walked along the tracks to platforms. NHK said more than 4 million buildings without power in Tokyo and its suburbs.”
The Associated Press reports, “Thirty minutes after the quake, tall buildings were still swaying in Tokyo and mobile phone networks were not working. Japan’s Coast Guard has set up a task force and officials are standing by for emergency contingencies, Coast Guard official Yosuke Oi said.”
Local officials are confirming in Japan that there are casualties, but confirmation on total numbers are not currently known.
Update(1:12am PST): A widespread warning has been issued for the entire pacific region including the Western Coastal area of North America (including NEMzy’s hometown of the San Francisco Bay Area). From what I understand, sirens have been sounding in Honolulu bay, Hawai’i. If you live near the pacific ocean, please look to your emergency response system for additional detail.
Update(2:18am PST): The first Tsunami waves should arrive in Hawai’i shortly. Authorities have indicated that many coastal areas in the Hawaiian islands should be evacuated and individuals in those low-lying areas should move to higher ground. Again, please continue to check the link at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center: http://www.weather.gov/ptwc/?region=2
Update(2:40am PST): The Associated Press through Yahoo! has reported that the death toll in Japan has climbed to 32 people. They report, “Japan’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency said at least 32 people were killed. “The earthquake has caused major damage in broad areas in northern Japan,” Prime Minister Naoto Kan said at a news conference. Even for a country used to earthquakes, this one was of horrific proportions. It unleashed a 23-foot (7-meter) tsunami that swept boats, cars, buildings and tons of debris miles inland.” We are saddened to hear this news and will continue to update our site as additional news is reported about the victims of this quake. There is still an imminent threat to islands in the Pacific region as well as the west coast of North America (California, Oregon, Washington) from potential Tsunami waves. These areas are still under a tsunami warning.
Update(3:00am PST): This will be our final update to this post until we create another followup post. According to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, people living on Pacific Islands as well as the West Coast of the USA should know the following — first, Tsunami waves have been reported at Midway islands to 5ft. This means that there is a high risk of inland flooding. These waves do have some force when they break near shores. Although a 5-foot wave doesn’t seem to be very large, but over the course of an hour, the waves can cause a tremendous amount of coastal and low-level flooding. Needless to say, the likelihood of seeing a giant wave of water washing over the area (as Hollywood would let us believe) is not very probable. However, seeing an increase in coastal and surrounding area flooding is likely. This can potentially be dangerous to people living in the Northern California area, especially the San Francisco Bay Area (the home of NEMzy). Please keep these things in mind:
1. Remember that the first wave in a Tsunami series may not be the largest wave. If you are in a warning area, take precautions now and move to a higher-elevation.
2. If you see rushing water, feel the ground vibrate, or see the water rush out, you are in extreme danger of a tsunami wave.
3. If you are in a coastal area prone to flooding, please take precautions immediately to protect yourself and your property.
4. Seek the guidance of your local emergency management division and visit the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center’s website for updated information: http://www.weather.gov/ptwc/