On California’s beaches, the tsunami brings choppy waves, isolated floods and a lot of curiosity

The tsunami activity that hit the coast of California on Saturday caused modest waves, flooding in some places and a lot of curiosity.

There were no reports of major damage or injuries where most areas could see 1- to 2-foot waves. Officials did not anticipate major flooding, but warned that the situation – caused by a volcano in eruption near the southern Pacific nation of Tonga – posed dangers to swimmers, surfers and boats. Beaches and harbors up and down the coast were closed.

The wave that swept into the Port of Santa Cruz caused flooding and offensive boats, said Ashley Keehn, public information officer for the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies and the Harbor Patrol evacuated people from the harbor early Saturday, including some people living on board the boats.

“We went boat to boat and evacuated the harbor, making sure there was no one inside who could potentially be in danger,” Keehn said.

The water level rose several meters in the harbor, she added.

“There have been some minor waves rolling in,” Keehn said. “We’ve seen some boats being tossed around a bit.”
A car was submerged in seawater up to the top of the tires, she said. No injuries were reported.

Authorities planned to assess any damage when the water receded, Keehn said. “With the water still at a fairly high level, it’s hard to assess the damage right now.”

Initial reports from the Port of Santa Cruz indicated little damage to ships moored there.

Gordon Rudy, a real estate agent holding a 28-foot cabin cruiser on the U-Dock, saw the wave from the harbor parking lot after being evacuated and said, “No boats are being damaged at this time.” A decade ago, a tsunami caused by a Japanese earthquake left the port with damage estimated at more than $ 20 million.

People present at both events said Saturday’s rise was relatively mild.

“We saw very little debris floating in the canal. Nothing compared to 2011,” said contractor Scott Sommers, who spent the night on his 32-foot motorboat in preparation for early morning crab rides. When the tsunami alert was issued before dawn, boat owners woke up sleeping neighbors.

Some chose to take their boats out to sea for safety, while others decided to leave their vessels in place and look from land or from a railway bridge overlooking the harbor. The climb arrived shortly after noon. 8, they said, and were markedly different from the violent waves of the 2011 tsunami.

“There were no big waves. It would just go in and out again, ”Sommers said. He and Rudy estimated that the water quickly rose as much as 8 feet and then flowed out just as fast.

“Like high tide and low tide happened in two or three minutes,” Sommers said. While the boats seemed to survive the wave, water broke over the dam and flooded parking lots and streets.

From kl. 11 the harbor remained closed and inaccessible to owners to inspect boats. Rudy, whose boat suffered nearly $ 30,000 in damage in the 2011 tsunami, said he bought a new boat in October and was relieved it appeared to have escaped damage. “You have an absolutely perfect boat, you hope you can keep it that way,” he said.

Dustin Mulvaney, Professor of Environmental Studies at San Jose State University, living in Santa Cruz, shared photos on Twitter of the waves lapping against the rocks and flooding steps on the shore.

“The waves are just coming from everywhere, it seems,” Mulvaney said. “The water jumps around a lot.”

The tsunami coincided with high tide, immersing the lower steps below about 15 feet of water at Mitchell’s Cove, Mulvaney said. He said he calculated that when the waves broke, the splash reached as high as 20 feet up the stairs.

Mulvaney said he walks along West Cliff Drive every day, often with his dog and two children. The waves were some of the biggest he has seen in the last year, but no surfers were in the water. This time, he said, the waves looked different.

“It’s definitely choppy,” Mulvaney said. “You are not able to read these waves because they come from different angles.”

Between sets of waves, the water retreated unusually far, posing a potential danger to unsuspecting people who might venture down to the beach, Mulvaney said. “That’s why I stayed up on the cliff.”

In addition to the immediate dangers of the harbor and elsewhere, Mulvaney said looking at the crashing waves made him think about the need to prepare for sea level rise and worsening storm surges.

“We have areas that are prone to earthquakes and fires,” he said, “and just having a tsunami added on top of everything that makes you realize that we all live in some kind of vulnerable places.”

In Southern California, beaches and piers were closed, but the curious still came out.

Halfway along Newport Pier, a gate blocked access to its end, a surprise for Newport Beach resident Bob Baeyens, 61.

“I’ve never seen it shut down this way. But then you usually do not get notified of the tsunami danger, not really here,” he said, looking at the surfers below.

“They’re still coming,” he added, pointing to the bouncing bodies in wetsuits, which he estimated at about 100. The retired construction worker said his son alerted him to the Tongan eruption, sent him pictures and during his beach trip around. 11 in the morning Saturday he noticed higher than usual waves.

“We’re far from that volcano, but still things can be connected,” he said. “I just do not think it will affect the amount of people who come to the beach because we all like Southern California for a reason. I mean, just the other day it was 81 degrees in January – yes, January. There are only a few places in the world where that can happen. “

Baeyens turned to his phone to read several tsunami updates from his son. Across the landscape, dozens of pigeons stood guard outside the Dory Fishing Fleet entrance, their eyes searching for remains. Families strolled past with babies in buffer jackets.

Teenagers whizzed along on flashing scooters. A couple hugged where one of them picked up their toddler and snorted her in the warm fresh air.

“Every day here is a blessing,” Baeyens said. “Such a blessing.”

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