Massive Earthquake In Chile Poses Tsunami Threat to California

A major earthquake struck Chile this morning with a magnitude of 8.8. It’s not quite as large as the enormous 1960 Chile earthquake, the largest ever recorded with a magnitude of 9.5, but it was enough to do catastrophic damage in central Chile, likely including parts of the capital, Santiago.

What does this mean for California? It means a “minor tsunami” is likely to hit the California coast during the middle of the day today. By “minor” that apparently means waves of between 1 and 2 feet, not enough to do major damage but enough to warn people to not go near the water.

Specific arrival times and amplitude projections can be found here – the tsunami will hit La Jolla around noon and over the next 2 hours work its way up the coast – Santa Barbara around 12:30pm, Monterey around 12:45, SF around 1:30, Crescent City (which was devastated by a 1964 tsunami) around 1:45.

I’ll be watching, but from a safe distance. Hopefully it won’t be much more than a high tide around here. Unfortunately for Hawaii, they are expecting a major tsunami threat.

UPDATE: Picture at upper right is from Asilomar State Beach in Pacific Grove, where beach access was closed off. The tsunami appeared to arrive between 12:45 and 1:00 today, looking like a very high tide but nothing particularly damaging.