Friday, March 11, 2011

Tsunami spares most of San Francisco Bay Area

The Bay Area largely dodged the tsunami bullet, with tidal waves from Japan's epic earthquake doing the most damage north and south of the region.
Local transit services were running on normal schedules and regional officials reported little damage from waves that raced 7,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean within hours of the huge earthquake that hit Japan on Thursday night. They started hitting the coast about 8 a.m.
Other places in California were not so lucky. Crescent City near the Oregon border, a town nearly destroyed by a tsunami following a 1964 earthquake in Alaska, again suffered extensive damage. Its harbor was reportedly destroyed, with many boats sunk or cast out to sea by 8-foot waves.
Also near the state border, four people who went out to the coast to photograph the oncoming tsunami waves were washed into the sea by them. One remained missing and was presumed dead.
In Santa Cruz, south of San Francisco, waves damaged boats and docks.
Officials, meanwhile, cautioned that the Bay Area was not yet fully out of danger. Tsunami waves can continue for up to 12 hours and the first are sometimes not the largest. With higher tides this evening than when the waves hit this morning, officials are keeping a watchful eye on the sea. A tsunami warning from the National Weather Service remains in effect.
“We are exercising extreme caution,” BART said this morning. “The situation could change quickly and we will update you as soon as possible if anything changes.”
Waves higher than 10 feet would "almost certainly stop service between West Oakland and Daly City Stations,” BART said. BART’s tunnel between Oakland and San Francisco runs along the bay floor, meaning it could be affected by powerful wave activity.
The Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District, which runs ferry service on the bay, also said it will operate regular schedules.
In San Francisco, police closed the Great Highway as well as Baker Beach, China Beach, Ocean Beach and Fort Funston. It was not clear when that roadway and the beaches would be reopened.

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