Given that California suffers about one tsunami a year, it's time to pay more attention to signs for danger zones and evacuation routes. In Southern California, Graehl said, a tsunami of distant or local origin could resemble swirling currents in the bay or a wall of water, up to 10 to 25 feet. In that scenario, people in Southern California could have about five hours of warning before the wave hits, he said. Jones helped create a computer model that showed what a magnitude 9.1 earthquake off the coast of Alaska could do in Southern California, more than 2,000 miles away.
The resulting tsunami swept Crescent City along the coast of Northern California, with a monstrous surge that killed a dozen people who thought the danger had passed. It flooded 29 blocks of the Crescent City waterfront, damaged ports and port facilities as far south as Santa Cruz and caused 12 deaths in California. It would probably take longer, perhaps five to six hours, for a tsunami triggered in that northern region to reach the southernmost tip of the West Coast, giving residents and tourists in Southern California enough time to reach higher ground. Don Drysdale, spokesman for the California Geological Survey, said you shouldn't be on high alert at all times, but it's something you should think about if you're on a crowded beach on Labor Day.
In Southern California in particular, the odds of a smaller tsunami are higher than in a large one. He went on to say that he understands that people in California have a lot to consider when it comes to wildfires or safety earthquakes, to name a few. If you're wondering why you haven't heard of all these tsunamis that hit California, it's because most of those recorded were barely noticed and few have caused significant death or damage, said Nick Graehl, an engineering geologist at the California Geological Survey. Fortunately, it seems that the Bay Area and the rest of California escaped the worst kind of damage that a tsunami can cause on Saturday.