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UPDATE TSUNAMI: Potential For Two More Waves Today, Harbormaster Says

Though all is calm now, local authorities are still on watch, with the tsunami warning still in effect for the California Coast.

Update 2:59 p.m.: According to Pillar Point Harbor Master Robert Johnson, the Harbor Patrol has just been dispatched to secure the abalone farm in the harbor to some moorings.

All is calm now at Pillar Point Harbor where tsunami waves that hit this morning shortly after 8 a.m. today did not appear to cause any significant damage, but Harbormaster Robert Johnson said there is a potential for two more waves to come sometime today in the next five to six hours.

The waters off Pillar Point Harbor experienced a 5-foot rise shortly after at 8 a.m. today, according to Ken Lord, spokesperson for Cal Fire. "There was no noticeable damage to any vessels or surrounding properties, except for an abalone farm located in Pillar Point Harbor," Lord said. "It broke loose."

Residents in the low-lying coastal areas were notified to voluntarily evacuate, said Art Montiel, spokesperson for the California Highway Patrol.

"We targeted about 2650 homes through reverse 911," Lord said, "and made phone calls notifying them about the voluntary evacuation at around 4:20 a.m."  The calls were made to residences in the low-lying coastal areas, he said.

Lord said that the low-lying areas along the San Mateo Coastside included Pillar Ridge Mobile Home Park, the Miramar area, anything "west of Coronado" in El Granada, and the Pilarcitos area in Highway 1.

"We're letting people know that anyone who lives in the east side of Highway 1 is free to go home," said Lord.

Three evacuation centers were set up: at Half Moon Bay High School, Farallone View Elementary School in Montara, and Pescadero High School. Lord said that about 200 individuals evacuated to the High School, about 35 to Farallone View, and 14-20 individuals to Pescadero High. Schools in the Cabrillo Unified School District were also closed.

Lord said that the evacuation center in Pescadero has since closed. "None of those individuals lived west of Highway 1," he said.

This morning, the California Highway Patrol closed beaches on the San Mateo County coastside from the Devil's Slide south to Ano Nuevo State Beach, Montiel said.

"We're just trying to keep an eye on the coast to make sure that the water levels don't rise," said Jeremy Lostrom, California Highway Patrol officer who was monitoring the entrance to Montara State Beach this morning with two other officers. This morning, Lostrom was turning cars away and did not allow cars to park on the west side of Highway 1.

Lord said that authorities are continuing to monitor the situation and are meeting once an hour. Agencies monitoring the situation in addition to CalFire and the Coastside Fire Protection District are San Mateo County, the Red Cross, the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office, Half Moon Bay Police Department, the city of Half Moon Bay, and the Cabrillo Unified School District.

As of this afternoon at 1 p.m., the tsunami warning is still in effect for the California Coast. The tsunami was triggered by an 8.9-magnitude earthquake that hit off the northeast coast of Japan on Thursday night.

Half Moon Bay Patch is continuing to monitor the situation and will update the site as more information becomes available.

Amy March 12, 2011 at 10:37 PM
Hope our friends Al and Claudia aboard M/Y "Mental Floss" are O.K.... Love, B&A

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