[UPDATE: National Tsunami Week] Tsunami Watch OC: Crowds Gathering to Catch Glimpse of Tsunami, But Not Much to See

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Will it come?!
UPDATE, MARCH 16, 5:32 P.M.: To the people of Japan and even (to a lesser extent) the seafaring folk in Santa Cruz, the Weekly sends its best regards for a full recovery. The devastation that has rocked and continues to rock Japan is unlike anything we ever hope to see again in a lifetime. They need a lot of help, and it is on all of us to contribute in whatever small way possible, since we'd hope others would do the same if it were us in that position.

That said, Orange County spent its Friday morning on "Tsunami Watch." Media outlets throughout the county and the state were on alert, sending out warnings and updates of the doom and gloom that may result (did anyone else catch the B-squad CNN commentators putting everyone on high-alert? We figured Anderson Cooper must have been on a direct flight to Tokyo. Here's one fictional account of what went down in the CNN newsroom). It was quite a spectacle.

But it never really came for anyone south of Los Angeles County. A few minor tidal surges, none more devastating than the natural incoming and outgoing tide. But people skipped school and work and hung out within viewing distance of the ocean. Had an actual tsunami come through, our curiosity could have led to perilous results.

It seems like a weird coincidence that next week is National Tsunami Awareness and Preparedness Week, coming so soon after the world was stunned by what hit Japan. We should consider ourselves fortunate. And we should do what we can to best prepare for what can and may come. Just use this state-run website, My Hazards, to determine what natural disasters may strike your city. 

Enjoy the next few nights of restless sleep and unpleasant dreams. 

UPDATE, MARCH 11, 2:15 P.M.: The Orange County Emergency Operation Center issued a statement that all of the beaches, piers, harbors, roads and marinas throughout the county are officially open as of 1 p.m. 

There have been people walking and running and surfing around South County for a few hours now. In Dana Point, spectators saw nothing more than minimal surges of water that were most noticeable in the harbor. For images of other areas effected by the so-called tsunami, Surfline.com has some sequences of various parts of the state, including Santa Cruz beaches, where the tidal surges were more substantial.

UPDATE, MARCH 11, 11:59 A.M.: Photographer Keith May went to check out the non-tsunami tsunami at Newport Beach. Photos after the jump.

ORIGINAL POST, MARCH 11, 10:08 A.M.: Before crowds could gather at low-lying spots along the coast, the OC Sheriff's Department and OC Parks Department were quick to react and close down as many areas as possible that could be susceptible to any substantial tidal surge as a result of the 8.9 earthquake in Japan. 

As a result, crowds redirected to higher ground, where they could find a decent vantage point of whatever may happen. A couple of hundred people gathered on the bluff overlooking Strands Beach in Dana Point, watching for what news agencies were calling a "wall of water."

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Chasen Marshall/OC Weekly
Coast Highway between Dana Point and San Clemente was shut down.

From the vantage point overlooking Strands, boats could be seen heading out to sea, presumably from Dana Point Harbor. Around 7:30 a.m., representatives on hand from OC Parks said they were told they would be able to reopen the beach walkways at 11 a.m.

With reports coming in of tidal surges in Santa Cruz as late as 9:45 a.m., one would expect the various departments to maintain beach closures for quite a while longer.

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Chasen Marshall/OC Weekly
Crowds gathered to catch a glimpse of whatever the tsunami warning would bring.
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Chasen Marshall/OC Weekly
Beach access points were closed throughout South Orange County.
One disappointed spectator was overhead leaving the bluff at Strands Beach, saying, "Well, that wasn't the biggest wall of water I've ever seen."

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Keith May/OC Weekly

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Keith May/OC Weekly

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Keith May/OC Weekly


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One story I heard on TV this morning (I live in Japan): a volunteer firefighter who'd gathered at his station a block from the sea after the earthquake scrambled up to the roof as the tsunami came in - the top of a three-story building, so essentially the fourth floor. The water rose above his head, but he'd managed to wedge himself against the edge railing, and for the few minutes he was under water, he was able at times to raise his head above the deluge for air. A few more inches, he said, and he'd have ended up like all his fellow firefighters: disappeared, at this moment. The building was reduced to its T-beam skeleton. He was wandering what streets had been cleared of the rubble of the town he had been trained to protect, a filthy blanket over his shoulders in the near-freezing temperature.

Yeah, SoCal will probably never have a tsunami like that. And you'd all better thank your fucking little stars.

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Guest

I find it very telling that people here in Orange County are going to watch a possible tsunami like it is a fun attraction at a carnival, while people are dying and possibly injured from the tsunamis in Japan.

"One disappointed spectator was overhead leaving the bluff at Strands Beach, saying, 'Well, that wasn't the biggest wall of water I've ever seen.'"

Why don't you go to Japan if you want to see such a large wall of water crashing down upon homes and destroying towns all along the coast.

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