Wave surge from tsunami hits Bay Area


Santa Cruz

The North Santa Cruz Harbor was calmer by Friday evening, but earlier in the day, the surges from the tsunami left a path of destruction as boats broke away from their moorings and crashed into piers and each other.

The first surge hit Santa Cruz shortly before 8 a.m. The quickly rising tide followed by the water rushing back out acted as a one-two punch.

Dozens of people watched as the waves surged in and out of the narrow harbor while some boat owners rushed to try to save the boats, sometimes defying warnings from emergency officials.

An estimated 20-30 boats sunk and hundreds more were damaged. One Santa Cruz County supervisor estimates $14 million in damage.


In Pacifica, school was cancelled Friday and the beaches were closed because of the advancing tsunami, but the surges did not have the same impact they had on other parts of the California coast. The tsunami came at low tide, so when there were swells, it appeared to be normal.

The waves smashed against the pier, but never created a problem. Streets were closed to traffic and police officers brought in from other San Mateo County cities turned back anyone trying to get a look at the waves.

Half Moon Bay

The tsunami sirens never went off in Halff Moon Bay. The water levels rose slightly on Friday, but the area did not see the big waves that people were expecting.

That does not mean the city was not prepared for what could have happened. At 4:15 a.m., residents received an automated call alerting them to voluntary evacuations. Many residents drove to higher ground along Highway 92 and waited until they were given the all-clear.

San Francisco

Friday morning, the bluffs above Ocean Beach were dotted with spectators who wanted to see any sign of the tsunami. San Francisco police closed Ocean Beach, Baker Beach, China Beach and Fort Funston to prevent anybody from getting hurt, but some people have been ignoring that warning.

The Great Highway was closed for most of Friday but reopened late in the day.


There was an impressive scene in Bolinas where several large surges flooded the Bolinas channel. Locals say they saw one surge raise the water level about four feet. Those living nearby saw six surges in just the first few hours of the morning.

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