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Wave action from Chilean earthquake arrives on California coast

Disasters and AccidentsNational Weather ServicePort of Los Angeles

Some California marinas, particularly those north of Los Angeles, could see small wave action over the next day as a result of the 8.2 Chilean earthquake and tsunami.

Kathy Hoxsie, a meteorologist with the NWS Oxnard, said “one-foot tide fluctuations” occurred in the Santa Barbara harbor as of about 7:45 a.m. Such tides were unlikely to damage boats in the harbor, she said.

The Ventura harbor also experienced three-to-four knot fluctuations in its currents, as well as swirling water, Hoxsie said. Those fluctuations can act like “a sudden push,” similar to a wind gust, she said.

If a boat owner was returning to a dock or harbor, such a jolt could cause damage by suddenly slamming the vessel into the dock.

Knight said one of the largest fluctuations in wave height could hit San Luis Obispo County, where waves could reach up to 20 centimeters above normal.

He said the “wave action” could continue for a full day but called the situation “pretty typical.”

“I think there’s nothing to worry about here, but we want to do our due diligence,” he said. “We haven’t seen anything yet to make us worry. And we don’t expect to.”

The first waves to strike California that were connected to Tuesday night’s South American earthquake may have hit La Jolla around 4 a.m., said Bill Knight, an oceanographer with the National Tsunami Warning Center based in Alaska.

From there, officials said the waves appear to have traveled north. The National Weather Service in Oxnard said on its Facebook page that small tsunami waves arrived just before 5 a.m. in Los Angeles County and reached San Luis Obispo County about 20 minutes later.

Observed tsunami heights reached nearly 7 feet in the Chilean port city of Iquique, and evacuations were ordered along the country’s Pacific Coast. But by early Wednesday local time, officials lifted tsunami warnings and watches for Chile and other Latin American countries.

By about 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, officials also ended a tsunami advisory for the state of Hawaii.

In California, Port of Los Angeles spokesman Phillip Sanfield said officials were not aware of any issues connected to tsunami-related waves, tides or currents. The same was true for Marina del Rey, said Carol Baker, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors, which oversees that area. “We haven’t had any issues … no surge, no reports of damage.”

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matt.stevens@latimes.com

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