The Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami warning for the entire U.S. west coast earlier this morning following an 8.9 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Japan. According to the center, full evacuation is suggested for regions under tsunami warnings. One to three-foot waves are expected to hit the Santa Barbara county coast at approximately 8:24 a.m. The Santa Barbara Office of Emergency Services advised residents to stay away from the coast and out of county parks while the warning remains in place. The UCSB Alert program sent an email message at 3:15 a.m. informing students and campus community members of the situation.
Coastal areas of Hawaii have been evacuated as the tsunami is expected to hit the islands at roughly 3 a.m. local standard time with waves between three and six feet. The quake, which was followed by several strong aftershocks, struck directly off the island of Honshu at 2:46 p.m. local time and triggered a 13-foot tsunami. The disaster’s confirmed death toll had reached 50 as of press time. The quake is the strongest ever recorded in Japan’s history. Japan also declared a nuclear power emergency situation in the area surrounding the Onagawa nuclear power plant, which caught fire following the quake.