Skip to main content

VIDEO: Tsunami threatens Pacific

Coastal residents and marine interests across the Pacific, including those in Hawaii, Alaska and the Pacific Northwest and California, were on alert for tidal waves after a powerful earthquake in Japan spawned a series of devastating tsunamis.

The magnitude 8.9 offshore earthquake - the biggest to hit Japan since records began 140 years ago - struck the northeast coast on Friday, triggering a 30-foot tsunami that swept away boats, trucks, buildings and everything in its path. Fires, including one at an oil refinery, raged in the aftermath. The death toll stands at 60, but is sure to rise.

A tsunami warning was issued for the central and northern California coast and Oregon, the National Weather Service announced early Friday.

Click play to watch raw footage of boats, cars and telephone poles being moved by the tsunami. Mobile users can click here.

A 5-foot surge reportedly has already passed parts of the Aleutian Chain between Attu and Amchitka Pass, where residents were under a tsunami warning, as is the rest of Alaska's coast down to the southeast border.

The State Emergency Coordination Center activated late Thursday to monitor any potential impact to Alaska. There were no reports of damage early Friday.

In Hawaii, waves began rolling ashore early Friday, with readings of between 6 and 8 feet. At 3:30 a.m. (8:30 a.m. EST), television images in Honolulu showed an increase in water coming ashore.

Click play to watch footage of a whirlpool formed by the tsunami as it draws in boats. Mobile users can click here.

Advisories were issued along the California coast. An "advisory" is the weather service's lowest-level alert. It means there could be waves, but officials don't expect "inundation." Still, the service says, shorelines might see "dangerous surges and currents" in harbors and bays, and people are advised to stay off beaches and out of marinas for the afternoon. Boats, obviously, should be well secured.

The Tsunami Warning Center has issued estimated times for residents to track arrival times and expected wave amplitude for the California coast and a more complete list of estimated times of arrival for locations along the North American Pacific coast.

Click play to watch footage of the tsunami as it sweeps farmland and nears a highway overpass. Mobile users can click here.