2004 Gran Canaria (winter) – An Indian Ocean Tsunami
T S U N A M I !!!
2004 Gran Canaria (winter) – An Indian Ocean Tsunami
Sunday 26 December 2004
We hear there’s been an earthquake under the Indian Ocean and a tsunami (tidal wave) which hit Thailand and Indonesia. Not much more detail available early on. (The news prompts me to use
to connect to the Internet. Dial-up is still slow, and on vacation I’m loathe to spend more than the bare minimum online (mostly to upload these pages for family and friends) but this news seems to require a bit of attention. Much of what follows is what I heard of the catastrophe via fark.com.)
TSUNAMI BULLETIN NUMBER 003
PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER/NOAA/NWS
ISSUED AT 1535Z 27 DEC 2004
THIS BULLETIN IS FOR ALL AREAS OF THE PACIFIC BASIN EXCEPT
ALASKA – BRITISH COLUMBIA – WASHINGTON – OREGON – CALIFORNIA.
……………… TSUNAMI INFORMATION BULLETIN ………………
THIS MESSAGE IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY. THERE IS NO TSUNAMI WARNING
OR WATCH IN EFFECT.
AN EARTHQUAKE HAS OCCURRED WITH THESE PRELIMINARY PARAMETERS
ORIGIN TIME – 0059Z 26 DEC 2004
COORDINATES – 3.4 NORTH 95.7 EAST
LOCATION – OFF W COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATERA
MAGNITUDE – 9.0
SOME ENERGY FROM YESTERDAYS TSUNAMI IN THE INDIAN OCEAN HAS
LEAKED INTO THE PACIFIC BASIN… PROBABLY FROM SOUTH OF THE
AUSTRALIAN CONTINENT. THIS ENERGY HAS PRODUCED MINOR
SEA LEVEL FLUCTUATIONS AT MANY PLACES IN THE PACIFIC. FOR
50 CM CREST-TO-TROUGH AT CALLAO CHILE
19 CM CREST-TO-TROUGH AT IQUIQUE CHILE
13 CM CREST-TO-TROUGH AT PAGO PAGO AMERICAN SAMOA
11 CM CREST-TO-TROUGH AT SUVA FIJI
50 CM CREST-TO-TROUGH AT WAITANGI CHATHAM IS NEW ZEALAND
65 CM CREST-TO-TROUGH AT JACKSON BAY NEW ZEALAND
18 CM CREST-TO-TROUGH AT PORT VILA VANUATU
06 CM CREST-TO-TROUGH AT HILO HAWAII USA
22 CM CREST-TO-TROUGH AT SAN DIEGO CALIFORNIA USA
HOWEVER… AT MANZANILLO MEXICO SEA LEVEL FLUCTUATIONS WERE
AS MUCH AS 2.6 METERS CREST-TO-TROUGH PROBABLY DUE TO FOCUSING
OF ENERGY BY THE EAST PACIFIC RISE AS WELL AS LOCAL RESONANCES.
THIS IS TO ADVISE THAT SMALL SEA LEVEL CHANGES COULD CONTINUE
TO BE OBSERVED ACROSS THE PACIFIC OVER THE NEXT DAY OR TWO
UNTIL ALL ENERGY FROM THIS EVENT IS EVENTUALLY DISSIPATED.
THIS WILL BE THE FINAL BULLETIN ISSUED FOR THIS EVENT UNLESS
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION BECOMES AVAILABLE.
THE WEST COAST/ALASKA TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER WILL ISSUE BULLETINS
FOR ALASKA – BRITISH COLUMBIA – WASHINGTON – OREGON – CALIFORNIA.
The earthquake moved the island of Sumatra 100 feet. Sumatra is about the size of California.
(From the BBC News comment site, via Fark.com:)
Niavali Beach Hotel is a remote location in a war-torn region. It is one of few remaining hotels. We caught the full ferocity of the waves front on. We were staying in a room on the beach. We had only seconds to evacuate our room as the waves came crashing through the window at amazing speed and strength. We ran to the upstairs room. Within seconds the waves and water was up to our first floor balcony. Suddenly the waters retreated with equal force gutting our room on the ground floor and taking with it even the bath tub. Then the waves came again filling in all round us. It was like we were on a ship in a storm.
The waves very quickly receded and we saw the retreating torrents full with furniture beds, fridges, my daughter’s paddling pool together with bodies. Looking out to sea we saw that the sea bed was exposed like a desert for about 1 km. There was no sea. It was like the parting of the waves. We made a run for it at this point wadding through the debris. We saw our car wedged in a tree. We ran until reaching some dry land and just running and running. Ten minutes later we heard enormous crashing of waves as the sea came in for the third time – this time crushing and completely destroying the hotel sending huge slabs of concrete flying through the surging waters. Many people in their rooms perished as the first wave hit. There was simply not even seconds to escape. Families in their rooms on ground floor simply got sucked out of their rooms and disappeared.
— Alison Saetta, Colombo Sri Lanka
Here’s an old picture of Male, the capital of the Maldives. Just a teeming chunk of urbanity crowded onto a tiny bit of coral atoll barely peeking up above the surface of the Indian Ocean. Last I heard, two-thirds of the city is flooded.
One thing people aren’t paying attention to yet but will possibly mean the end of sustainable life in places like the Maldives: salt.
The Romans used to salt the fields of civilizations they wanted to destroy, because it prevents anything from growing for generations. Effectively this is what has happened to much of the agricultural land in the areas affected by the tsunamis.
New Zealand Herald reports that in Los Angeles, the head of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said US officials who detected the undersea quake tried frantically to get a warning out about the tsunami. But there was no official alert system in the region, said Charles McCreery, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s center in Honolulu.
“It took an hour and a half for the wave to get from the earthquake to Sri Lanka and an hour for it to get … to the west coast of Thailand and Malaysia,” he said. “You can walk inland for 15 minutes to get to a safe area.”
“We tried to do what we could,” he said. “We don’t have contacts in our address book for anybody in that part of the world.”
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