tsunami

Washington Department of Ecology

A new wave of suspected debris from the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan is washing up on Northwest shores. The latest noteworthy object to arrive, a large skiff coated with sea life, was found Thursday near Moclips, Wash.

Washington State Parks

State park rangers on Washington's Long Beach peninsula are investigating a new possible case of Japanese tsunami debris. This happened after a beachcomber found a 20-foot skiff encrusted with seaweed and gooseneck barnacles.

It's been exactly three years since a huge tsunami in March 2011 took thousands of lives in Japan and washed whole villages out to sea.

urbanworkbench/Flickr

It’s been almost 3 years since the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan. Hundreds of millions of gallons of radioactive water were released from the Fukushima nuclear plant. Fish there have been contaminated and some Japanese fisheries are still closed due to ongoing leaks. That’s made many people nervous about eating fish caught on this side of the Pacific Ocean.

Washington and other Pacific Coast states set up tsunami debris reporting hotlines in the wake of the 2011 disaster in Japan.

Hotline calls and emails to report suspected Japanese tsunami debris have gone way down this year. But West Coast states are still keeping their guard up in case another wave of flotsam from the 2011 disaster washes up on our shores.

USGS

The earthquake and tsunami threat to the Northwest from the offshore Cascadia fault was in the news in multiple ways Thursday. Canadian researchers have reconstructed a prehistoric record of great earthquakes on that shared fault. It reconfirms that we're due for another Big One. Coincidentally in Oregon, tsunami preparedness is getting a renewed look.

Here on the western coast of the U.S., we have a special connection to Japan. The ocean between us keeps bringing remnants from the massive tsunami there. It left more than 16,000 people dead. The debris is expensive to remove and can carry invasive species with it.

Judson Randall

Oregon authorities have contacted the Japanese Consulate in Portland to find out whether a piece of presumed tsunami debris that washed up at Oceanside on Friday is culturally significant.

The March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan served as a wake up call for coastal residents and visitors on our shores. But two years later, it is hard to measure how much that disaster has changed tsunami readiness on the Pacific Northwest coast.

Althea Rizzo is the geologic hazards program coordinator for Oregon Emergency Management. She says she's certain tsunami awareness has increased.

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