[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]
Update: Just got breaking news email from Cnn: “Between 200 to 300 bodies found in Japanese coastal city of Sendai, the Kyodo news agency reports.”
Update (II): Live BBC video, here, if you can’t get to a regular TV.
Update (III): For those in California, this seems to be a very recent update on the situation.
Update (IV): Thanks to Dana in the comments, this site seems to be covering the California concerns. I indicate below I am cautiously optimistic things will be okay, but it’s not like I am a scientist or something. And this page says that the waves could reach 6 ft. in Cali. I recommend playing it safe and believing the worst, and responding accordingly.
Update (V): And don’t think you are off the hook if you are outside of Cali. Evacuation warnings in Oregon, too. I won’t be able to provide comprehensive coverage of the warnings, so definitely seek out information yourself.
Update (VI): All new updates will be at this post.
There was an extremely massive earthquake off the coast of Japan overnight resulting in a tsunami (a.k.a. tidal wave):
A ferocious tsunami spawned by one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded slammed Japan’s eastern coast Friday, killing at least 60 people as it swept away boats, cars and homes while widespread fires burned out of control. Tsunami warnings blanketed the entire Pacific, as far away as South America, Canada, Alaska and the entire U.S. West Coast.
The magnitude 8.9 offshore quake unleashed a 23-foot (7-meter) tsunami and was followed by more than 50 aftershocks for hours, many of them of more than magnitude 6.0.
Police said at least 60 people were killed and 56 were missing. The death toll was likely to continue climbing given the scale of the disaster.
Dozens of cities and villages along a 1,300-mile (2,100-kilometer) stretch of coastline were shaken by violent tremors that reached as far away as Tokyo, hundreds of miles (kilometers) from the epicenter.
And there was a brief scare involving their nuclear power plants:
The International Atomic Energy Agency said Japan had closed four nuclear power plants as a precaution. A state of emergency was declared at one of the plants after its cooling system had a mechanical failure.
Must… resist… urge… to make Godzilla joke…*
Trouble was reported at two other nuclear plants as well, but there was no radiation leak at any.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the emergency measure at the nuclear power plant in Fukushima was a precaution and that the facility was not in immediate danger.
There is a concern that the wave could also hit Hawaii (and potentially the west coast, in Patrick’s neighborhood). But Googling around to check on my wife’s family in the Philippines, I found this:
Taiwan roads reopened and guests at a Philippines resort reported no unusual waves after Japan’s strongest earthquake in at least a century triggered tsunami warnings across the Pacific, including the U.S. west coast.
Sirens sounded in Hawaii and low-lying areas were evacuated after the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center raised an alert following the 8.9-magnitude temblor off Japan’s northeast, the Associated Press reported. The West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center extended the warning to the U.S. west seaboard.
I won’t pretend to be some kind of geologist, but logically if Taiwan and the Philippines didn’t get much of a whack, I would guess Hawaii will be okay, too. But let’s see what will happen.
Now I believe I have mentioned that my wife was a Filipina before, but I don’t believe I said that in fact what she really is, is a mostly Asian mutt (with me being a mostly European mutt). She is mostly Filipina, but also has Chinese and Japanese blood, as well as a drop of Spanish and Italian. And she does still have family in Japan, in a place called Atami. I tried Googling around on the subject, but there are no reports specifically about that town.
You can use google maps to see where Atami is, here.
And here’s a picture of the origin and predicted path of the Tsunami (source):
Also, via Andrew Sullivan I learned of a Google victim finder, which you can access here. The problem being, however, that even my wife is not 100% clear on how to spell their family name. I tried several educated guesses, and so far heard no news. Judging by the map above and comparing it to the Google map information, I think there is a reasonable chance they have been spared the worst of it. But I would rather know than guess, obviously.
Incidentally, my wife’s Japanese side contains “noble” blood. Her paternal grandmother had to choose between a noble Japanese man, and a common Filipino (the common man won) and during WWII her life read like one of those crappy Civil War dramas about brothers fighting brothers, with one uncle being a major figure in the Filipino resistance and another being a commander in the Japanese army with jurisdiction over the same zone. Family tradition maintains that one of my wife’s ancestors was famous for creating the original version of a very famous Japanese painting:
Which if true is is kind of ironic, even if obviously a tsunami doesn’t look like that.
* If that joking non-joke offends you, you have to understand that humor is as much a coping tool as anything else with me. When I was in the hospital with appendicitis last year, for instance, a lot of people were shocked to hear me joking as I suffered. I told them, “if I stop making jokes, then you should start worrying.”
[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]