My First Tsunami

March 2, 2010

Curiosity. I have it. The frightful 8.8 magnitude quake that jolted poor Chile last Saturday sent out reverberations: the threat of tsunamis all through the Pacific world. As it happened, I was scheduled to spend the weekend at my friend Emma’s family’s house in the misty, spruce-studded hills just above Cannon Beach. The tsunami was scheduled to reach that part of the Oregon coast at right around 3PM local time. I needed to see what this looked like.

It looked like nothing. Too subtle for humans to notice, but very much there. The water changes caused by the far-flung tsunami were merely a foot or so along the western edge of Oregon, but the fluctuations were very real.

The Newport water levels are in the chart below. Notice that right around 3PM the green line (representing the difference between what the tides were predicted to do and what the actual water level was) starts getting jumpy. That’s the tsunami I watched from the beach, without strictly being able to tell it was a tsunami.

Water level Data plot from near Newport, Oregon

I took this photo at that point:

Tsunami Wavelet


  1. autumn says:

    it was, i agree, somewhat underwhelming; strange behavior of beachgoers notwithstanding. i like to think i felt the earth tilt a bit, if nowhere but in my mind, but i am usually wrong about those sorts of things.

  2. Todd says:

    Are you okay?!?!

  3. Lyza Gardner says:

    Yes!!! I am okay!!

  4. Todd says:


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