On March 28, 1964, the northern California coastal town of Crescent City was devastated when a tsunami swept in from the Pacific Ocean. The business district was leveled, and 11 people were killed. Just a few years ago, on November 15, 2006, an 8.1 magnitude quake in Japan caused 3- to 5-foot surges that did significant damage to Crescent City’s harbor and marina.
You don’t forget this history when you visit Crescent City – placards marking the height of the flooding water have been placed in the downtown area, and signs around town describe the sight of the tsunami surge sweeping into the harbor and the resulting damage.
With that in mind, the tsunami hazard signs posted along Hwy 101 in northern California, Oregon and Washington are thought provoking – especially when parked here at Salmon Harbor in Winchester Bay. Several hundred RV’s, mostly large, are parked here whenever we visit, with only a narrow, 2-lane road (including a small bridge) leading OUT of the tsunami area.
Last night, channel surfing through the multitude of local cable TV channels, my heart started pounding when I clicked over to the local weather channel, heard an ominous, beeping alert tone, and and saw a bright read “Tsunami Advisory” scroll across the bottom of the screen. Tsunami?? Yikes, you can’t be serious!
Earlier in the day, the Samoas had been hit by tsunamis generated by a magnitude 8 undersea earthquake. The advisory was for the Pacific coastline from San Diego to the Oregon/Washington border, and listed specific times that communities along the coast might experience tsunami surges from the same quake. I jumped up from the bed, tore out to the front room and switched Odel’s TV viewing from satellite TV to the local cable weather channel. We read the advisory together, realized the time the surge was expected was NOW, and looked at each other with big, big eyes.
Fortunately, the advisory included the web address of the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center. We fired up the laptop and internet, and went straight to their website, where we spent 15 minutes educating ourselves about the meaning of an Advisory, and what was likely to happen here: nothing significant. Whew! We put our shoes and socks near the door, decided what we would do if the tsunami warning siren sounded, and stayed awake until the alert expired (11 pm). It was a new experience for us. :)
Detail oriented readers might be wondering how we happened to have cable TV, since we were dry camping with no hookups at all last time I wrote…
After three days of using our batteries and generator for electric power, we began experiencing problems with our 12v. power system. Big bummer! We had lots of help from our friends trying to diagnose the problem and have eliminated a lot of possibilities, but our next step in diagnosis and repair needs to take place at a repair facility in Eugene. Fortunately for us, our “normal” electrical system, 110v., is working fine. The solution: move to a site with hookups. Oh, boo-hoo. :)
On Monday, we snagged a big, roomy site in Windy Cove Campground (click here to read our review), the nearby county campground (the equivalent of a two block walk from our old site) with wonderful views over to the marina and our group of camping friends. Full hookups: unlimited water (and the ability to make it hot); sewer; electricity day and night; and cable TV – all of these things gratefully appreciated when the rain moved in Monday night and the temperature plummeted. We’ll be leaving tomorrow morning to be in Eugene in time for our repair appointment. Good-bye, Oregon coast!