Tsunami Advisory still in effect but OC beaches reopened

Tsunami advisories were in effect in areas of the Southland and Central Coast today as waves generated by a huge earthquake in Chile began lapping ashore the California coast, but no major flooding was expected.

The rise in sea level began to register shortly before 5 a.m., with the first waves under a foot. The waves began in Newport Beach, then the tsunami started to move north.

Authorities cautioned that waves could rise as high as three feet along the shores of Los Angeles and Orange counties and the Central Coast because of the monster earthquake that struck Chile with a magnitude of 8.3.

The National Weather Service issued the advisories Wednesday night. They cover the coast from San Onofre State Beach to Point Piedras Blancas in San Luis Obispo County. An advisory was also in effect for the Channel Islands, according to the weather service "If you are located in this coastal area, move off the beaches and out
of harbors and marinas,'' urged an NWS statement.

The advisories warn of strong currents that could prove "hazardous to swimmers, boats and coastal structures.''

"Areas within the advisory should not expect widespread inundation. However, there is the potential for strong currents in harbors and marinas.''

The Orange County Emergency Operations Center Public Information Hotline was open overnight to field calls about the tsunami advisories, but was being shut down as of about 7 a.m., according to the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

And about 6 a.m., all beaches, harbors, piers, and marinas in Seal Beach, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Dana Point and San Clemente -- including county and state beaches in Orange County -- were
reopened after having been closed a couple of hours earlier, the sheriff's department reported.

The earthquake that triggered the high-wave threats struck off the coast of central Chile at 3:55 p.m. and had a preliminary magnitude of 8.3. Waves were forecast to arrive in Los Angeles Harbor and Newport Beach
beginning about 4:45 a.m. with peak wave heights of two to three feet in the Los Angeles area and slightly lower along Orange County's coast, according to the NWS and local authorities. The first waves may not be the largest, forecasters said.

Long Beach authorities said Wednesday night they expect tsunami waves to hit Long Beach about 4:45 a.m. Long Beach Fire Department's Marine Safety unit will staff rescue boats and place additional units along the coast, according to that advisory.

At Los Angeles Harbor, a low tide of 1.8 feet was forecast for 5:28 a.m. and a high tide of 5 feet at 11:48 a.m., according to the NWS.

The Los Angeles Fire Department announced it would set up a unified command post with city law enforcement, beginning at 3:30 a.m. at Angels Gate Park in San Pedro. The command post was located at 3601 S. Gaffey St.

Authorities throughout the areas subject to the tsunami advisories warned members of the public to stay away from the waterfront, including marinas and piers.

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