The horrific 8.9 magnitude earthquake that rocked Japan overnight had Santa Barbarans waking up to a Tsunami Advisory this morning and beach closures throughout the South Coast. Projections had the first bands of the tsunami impacting our coastline around 8:15 a.m. this morning however, as of 10 a.m., Santa Barbara Harbor Manager Mick Kronman was happy to report that no major impacts had been felt.
“No surges, no big currents, and no damage to report,” said Kronman. “It is basically business as usual down here right now.” Though, as of press time, Santa Barbara appears to have dodged a bullet (harbors in Northern California, such as Santa Cruz, have not been as lucky), Kronman said that the tsunami did indeed create a slight abnormal “tidal fluctuation” of about one-and-a-half feet shortly after 8:30 a.m. this morning. Authorities reported MTD stopped running its electric shuttles below Gutierrez Street in anticipation of a surge, and most commercial boats have left the harbor.
Authorities stress that the Tsunami Advisory remains in effect for all coastal areas south of Pt. Conception and that a Tsumai Warning is in place for the coastline north of Pt. Conception. People are urged to stay away from the beaches (Kronman noted that impressive crowds gathered this morning along the waterfront to wait for the tsunami despite posted warnings) until further notice. Warnings and Advisories can stay in place for several hours after initial impact as potentially dangerous surges and currents can persist throughout the day.