Small Tsunami Waves Arrive on California Coast

Waves generated by a magnitude-8.2 quake off the coast of Chile fanned out across the Pacific toward Santa Monica and other California coastal communities

By Jonathan Lloyd
|  Thursday, Apr 3, 2014  |  Updated 5:57 AM CDT
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Small tsunami waves measuring just a few inches arrived on the Southern California coast Wednesday hours after a magnitude-8.2 earthquake off the coast of Chile.

Strong currents were expected in Southern California after tide gauges in Santa Monica showed  levels above predicted readings early Wednesday morning, according to the NWS. The elevated waves arrived just before 5 a.m. in Santa Monica and about 20 minutes later to the north in San Luis Obispo County.

Wave heights measured only a few inches and just above the predicted level, but the NWS reported "noticeable currents" in Ventura and Santa Barbara harbors. Tsunami waves lose energy as they travel from the quake epicenter, but can still impact currents thousands of miles away, sometimes hours after the intial waves arrive.

The small surges generated by the sudden displacement in the sea floor will likely continue Wednesday in and out of harbors and marinas. The NWS adviced anyone going in the water Wednesday to be aware of potentially strong and unusual ocean currents.

The magnitude-8.2 quake off the Chilean coast was linked to at least six deaths. Energy generated by the quake triggered tsunami warnings for a large area of the Pacific coast of Central and South America, where 6-foot-high tsunami waves  were reported.

The quake was about 60 miles northwest of Iquique, Chile at a shallow 12.5 miles deep. About 40 aftershocks have been reported in the region.

A tsunami advisory was issued for Hawaii, about 6,500 miles away from the epicenter. The advisory, canceled late Wednesday morning, was issued to alert beach visitors, surfers and swimmers of strong ocean currents.

No tsunami warnings or advisories were issued for the United States West Coast, unlike in 2011 when advisories were issued for the California coast after the magnitude-8.9 earthquake that devastated Japan.

Damage related to the 2011 tsunami occurred in Santa Cruz and Crescent City. In Southern California, the tsunami generated small surges in Southern California, prompting beach closures.

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