Small Tsunami Hits California After Chile Quake

Tsunami Zone (Charles Wagner / Flickr / Cropped)
Charles Wagner / Flickr / Cropped

SANTA MONICA — A large magnitude 8.3 earthquake off the Pacific coast of Chile triggered tsunami alerts around the Pacific rim–including in California, where a small tsunami wave was expected to hit the coast early Thursday.

Update: The tsunami wave reached the Los Angeles coast and was less than one foot in height in most areas.

In anticipation of the wave, authorities closed beaches and marinas from 4:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. However, the wave was not expected to be more than one foot above normal swell height.

The danger of the small tsunami wave is that unusual currents and unexpected surges might surprise those in the water. There were no evacuations ordered along the California coast.

In March 2011, after a devastating magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck off the coast of Japan, a tsunami devastated Japanese coastal towns and reached the California coast. Though it was small by the time it reached California, the tsunami wave killed one man in California and caused significant damage to boats in harbors.

In Orange County, officials closed beaches from San Onofre State Beach north to San Luis Obispo, expecting the wave to hit at 4:46 a.m.

In Chile, itself, a tsunami alert was lifted, though the quake caused several deaths and prompted the evacuation of one million people.