Tsumani warning - some observations


so.. sitting on our deck enjoying morning coffee overlooking Te Haumi, a shallow tidal beach, in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand. Close to Paihia and views over to Russell. Lots of on water action, sailing, ferries, charter boats etc.


At 8.46am the tsumani siren starts wailing, mobile phones ring loudly with Civil Defence Alert. There had been a 8.1 earthquake near the Kermadc Islands early that morning with the possibility of a Tsumani. Now they are declaring an evacuation of all low lying areas.

As we are about 80m/260` up we are OK, but our street is soon filled with cars from houses down by the beach.

Coast Guard issue a Pan Pan advising all craft on the water to proceed to at least the 100m depth line. Soon we see the two car ferries from Opua ,and the R Tucker Thompson heading past us along with scores of craft of all sizes.



By now it is about 10:30 with high tide due at 1:15 but already it looks like a full king tide. Coast Guard still advising boats to move out. Some of the smaller/slower craft have reported that they have anchored off the closest island and gone ashore to clamber to the highest point. There is still a lot of uncertainty about what too expect and so lots of chatter on air. Many report they are out of cell phone coverage, VHF a must have. Fortunately it was a warm sunny day with little wind and swell as it can get real nasty out in The Bay for sitting around for hours.

The 1st wave was expected to hit the east cape about 10:15 and could be up too 1m/3'. Initial reports were that it was relatively small. About 10:35 Whangaeri reported the river was dropping and strong currents at the Town Basin. (B.J.'s old stomping ground.)

About 11:00 we notice the water level dropping at the beach and what had been an incoming current in the river was now major outgoing. Water level dropped to about 1/3 out exposing sand bar and rocks. Visions of it going further as was the case in Thailand and Japan. Then thankfully it stopped and started to flow in. There were a few more smaller fluctuations but strong current patterns out in the channel.

On shore they had evacuated the town of Paihia, school, shops etc. Good community spirit with local supermarket doing a BBQ up on the high ground. We opened the house up to people in their cars for bathroom, water etc. Lots of concern re kids and family members.

On the water lots of fishing but as the hours pasted lack of concrete information was concerning too many. Had gone out in a hurry, not sure if enough fuel, water etc. How long would it be? If there was major damage ashore would they be able to return.

Finally the siren stopped and all clear called.

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Super Anarchist
I've been in 3 of them now. One we made it out to sea (Eureka, California which was destroyed by one in about 1957). Another was in La Cruz, Mexico when I had the engine disassembled AND a rudder out for repairs. I was in town going to the injector shop and my wife was aboard. The water rushed in/out about 2m change with about a 10 minute period. Lots of currents and docks getting destroyed.

Glad it wasn't too big a deal. We've got friends in NZ and heard about it this morning too.


Left Shift

Super Anarchist
That's one of my recurring nightmares, although I don't know why as I've never been in one.  Waves smashing up against my windows...Nothing stops water.

We had a client who was on vacation in Banda Aceh in 2004, when the tsunami came in.  He just happened to be taking a nap in his third floor room of his hotel when the sounds awakened him.  He opened his door and saw the water roaring through the building, cleaning out everything below him.  The concrete walls were aligned with the surge and they stood, but everything else was gone.  Three days later he was scavenging for food with other survivors when they found a lost little boy. 



Super Anarchist
San Diego
The Fukushima tsunami made it to San Diego and turned the Bay into a river for  few hours, tore up some docks (one was where Dennis Conner parked his boat).  Then every few hours smaller surges occurred. Shelter Island suffered the most damage.  It was a day long affair, odd to see a 1 knot current sloshing back and forth in the normally calm Marina.

Was in Alaska when a big one hit nearby.  We were staying at the abandoned Pigot  Bay Salmon Research station doing remote logging road surveys using MonArks & Boston Whalers to get to our worksites.  It was quite comfy with a bunkhouse, cookhouse, etc.; compared to our usual tent camps.  When it hit we were knocked to the ground and couldn't stand up for 30 seconds or so, trees were swaying so bad some fell down down and we could see the ground undulate in the meadow in front of us.  Scary.

When we got back the Research Station was a mess.  Turns out the ground had dropped 3 1/2 feet  so the boat shack was flooded and we lost all the gear that would float (mostly jerry cans of gasoline & bundles of wood stakes).  A lot of broken windows and doors that were stuck.  Buildings near the shore would now flood a foot or so at high tide so we moved upland into the laboratory to stay dry. Luckily it hit at low tide (11 to 15 foot tides there) and there was not much surge which kept the station from completely washing away.

We busted open our emergency HF radio valise and contacted HQ in Anchorage.  After figuring out we were unhurt, safe and had plenty of food, etc.,  they told us to hang tight for a few days,  continue working 'till we ran out of work supplies if possible.  Typical Alaskan attitude.  They said "do not"  take our boats to Whittier as things were gonna be busy there for the next few days with SAR operations.    Four days later a Turbo Beaver float plane  showed up and in three trips hauled us and our expensive gear to Cordova (abandoned everything else), took all day.  Why haul us to Cordova?  Because that's where the Beaver was based and Cordova was not affected by the earthquake.  Coolest thing is we got overtime for the three days after our scheduled extraction.  



Super Anarchist
I was a regular visitor to NZ and one morning I was enjoying my brekky at Mt Maunganui in Tauranga when the alarms went off....I asked the cafe owner what we should do and he said...order another coffee! I then watched over the next 30 minutes as the beach car park across the road started to fill with locals coming down to the beach hoping to catch a view of the promised Tsunami.....I figured that if the tide started retreating....I'd head up the Mount!!



Super Anarchist
Myrtle Beach SC
My tiny tsunami experience:

When Fukushima hit I was living in a Newport Beach condo overlooking the Lido Isle bridge. There's no current there that I've ever noticed.

IIRC, the tide went up and down 3 times at 20-30 min intervals, 1-2' each time.  I could see and hear the water rushing around the pylons.  I watched some folks floating in inner tubes go swishing under, one way then the other, at a fast walking pace -- 2-3kt?

Before it hit, some big party boats were backed out of their slips, to prevent damage. Surge wasn't noticeable, but that weird current sure was.