Watching the OB “Tsunami Watch” in the Fog

by on March 11, 2011 · 6 comments

in Environment, Life Events, Ocean Beach

Like much of San Diego’s media, we joined the “Tsunami watch” down at the shore of Ocean Beach this morning. The horrible tragedy in Japan had generated enough energy under the Pacific Ocean that it was supposed to travel to the West Coast moving at the rate of 500 miles an hour, and hit San Diego’s coast around 8:40 a.m.

Authorities called a Tsunami Alert – an “advisory” – not the higher level of a “warning.” So, as per usual in our area, the media, private photographers, ordinary people and local residents rushed to the beaches and cliffs of Ocean Beach and Point Loma, in the hopes of seeing something of the Tsunami surge. And they did this ignoring the Tsunami directional warning signs installed by the City of San Diego last year.

Once at the beach, it was obvious that we were very lucky not to have a Tsunami wave coming as the fog was so thick that we couldn’t even see it even if it did come. It was so foggy at the beach, you couldn’t even see the end of the OB Pier, and at North Beach, you couldn’t even see South Beach.

We did speak with Sgt. Dave Rains of the Lifeguards, who said he and other guards thought there had been about a one foot “rise” at Dog Beach, and that they had heard there had been up to a three foot rise in Quivira Basin inside Mission Bay. They had started their patrol at 6 this morning with the “advisory” and were expecting up to a possible 2 and one half foot surge. Because it was just an advisory, they did not kick anybody off the beach, the pier or out of the water, Rains said.

Two police officers sat in their patrol car monitoring the situation as well. I spoke to them briefly to confirm that this was their duty. They told me they hadn’t seen anything nor had they heard any reports of any local effects from the Tsunami. In fact they said they were going to depart in a few moments.

Over in the North Beach parking lot, I spoke to two surfers who had just come out of the water. They’d been in surfing at Avalanche for about an hour and half. I asked them if they had felt anything, and they both said that they did feel a heavy current and more rip than usual in the ocean. Why, I asked, would you go in and surf knowing full well that there had been a Tsunami advisory out?

“It’s all been over-exaggerated by the media,” Greg Ataneruck, told me. Besides surfing, he goes to college and works at Chris’ Liquor. “I don’t buy into the fear factor,” he said. Hawaii didn’t get it, he said, as part of his reasoning, so OB wouldn’t have any effect. His buddy, Rob Innes, agreed.

By 10 this morning, most people and photogs had drifted away – unlike the fog -, disappointed in the lack of a visible effect from the ocean power that had been predicted. The Tsunami Advisory was for two hours, so around 10:45 a.m. even the cops and lifeguards turned to other things.

So, in the end, the news of the Tsunami Watch in Ocean Beach was the news itself. Other parts of the West Coast and Hawaii didn’t fare as well. And obviously, with the effects still being felt in Japan – as three nuclear reactors are in trouble and fires still rage in towns – we can turn our attention to their troubles and not have to worry or wonder about our own shore.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Gormlie March 11, 2011 at 5:53 pm

MSNBC reports: A tsunami caused by a powerful earthquake in Japan destroyed a heavy barge Friday afternoon in Mission Bay’s Quivira Basin.

The barge was damaged a little after 4 p.m. in a boat-dense area, threatening an adjacent dock. San Diego lifeguards on scene estimated the barge weighed in the tons and was too large to corral.

Some of it had sunk while other parts were still floating.


Rick Ward March 13, 2011 at 10:26 am

The pic’s of the foggy pier and beach tend to make this displaced (since ’91) local a tad homesick.Not since I was doing time in San Quentin in the mid ’70’s has it been so acute.But all is good here in Red America.Rent is cheap.It has to be as there are no jobs.But as no one is hiring 59 year old ex-convicts,it really doesn’t matter. I’m able to chill and not have to sweat the SDPD in my rear view mirror.Sometimes life dishes out small blessings that go unappreciated until you look at the scene from afar. Thanks to The OB Rag for small window into the other reality.If any of my ideas could be of any help,it would be my pleasure.After all I was trained to be a ‘PEER’ counselor by the Inbetween(circa 1971).


Frank Gormlie March 13, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Hey Rick – I worked at the Inbetween 1973-74. Were you there then?


Frank Gormlie March 13, 2011 at 11:46 am

SignOnSanDiego: Lifeguards rescue family from OB wave surge

By Laura Wingard

Friday, March 11, 2011 at 7:26 p.m.

SAN DIEGO — A San Diego lifeguard’s quick reaction helped save a family of four, including a 3-week-old baby and 5-year-old boy, from possibly being swept away Friday afternoon when a tsunami-sparked surge nearly overcame them near the Ocean Beach pier.

The lifeguard, David Neil, was on duty and on a run about 3:40 p.m. when he noticed the family looking at the tidepools and walking toward shore, said Maurice Luque, spokesman for the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

As Neil continued running, he saw a wave surge coming and realized the family wasn’t safe. He called for backup and lifeguard Rick Stell arrived. The family was on a rock that was about 1 foot above water, but the ocean was rising slowly, Luque said.

Neil and Stell first got the boy safely to shore. Next, they rescued his 29-year-old mom and the newborn, who was in a carrier. Then they went back for the children’s 51-year-old grandmother.

The lifeguards “stumbled several times and were soaked to their necks,” Luque said. The mom almost dropped the baby at one point, he said. In the end, they all escaped with only scrapes.

Even though officials warned throughout the day that dangerous surges could occur, not everyone believed them, Luque said.

For this family, he said, the water “went from nothing to up to 7 feet in a very short period of time.”


Marisag March 13, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Thank goodness for our professional lifeguards, we are so lucky to have them.


Rick Ward March 13, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Sorry Bro,but I was just running around O.B. trying to support a mexican mud episode that lasted til ’91 when I bailed.I have no proof,but I sure all the heroin that flooded the beach after the jetty fights were the work of Tricky Dick.It was a good way to lower the collective consiousness of Ocean Beach.Maybe thats why things have not progressed exactly as we planned.But it’s a new day and a new time.I figure us sorry assed boomers should be about making right.(I mean left).


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