Waves from Japan Tsunami sloshed around Quartermaster for three days

Quartermaster Harbor felt the effects of the March 11 earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan more than other parts of Puget Sound, according to data recently released by King County.

Two and half hours after tsunami waves were recorded along the Washington coast, water quality data collection systems located in Quartermaster Harbor recorded a repeated rise and fall in water depth of about four inches.

Doug Williams, a spokesman for the county’s Department of Natural Resources and Parks, said Quartermaster’s shallow depth and narrow mouth caused it to see a more sustained change in water level than similar collection systems located at Alki Beach and in Elliot Bay. Quartermaster’s sheltered nature caused the water to continue to “slosh around,” he said. Normal conditions didn’t return to the harbor for three days. 

Williams said that the county’s water quality data collection systems are in place to monitor the levels of pollutants and other chemicals in Puget Sound, but they also record a number of other conditions, including water levels. He said that although the change in water level in Quartermaster Harbor caused no damage and the county likely won’t use the data for emergency preparedness, it was a phenomenon worth noting. 

“As far as damage to structures or people it wasn’t significant. But it was still statistically significant. … It was an interesting little thing,” he said.

The Oregon and Cal-ifornia coasts saw the greatest impacts from the Japan tsunami. However, waves of up to two feet were recorded at Westport, on Washington’s central coast. Neah Bay and LaPush, also saw waves nearing two feet. 

According to the county, a small portion of the wave energy felt by the coast entered into the Strait of Juan de Fuca and worked its way through Puget Sound. One wave of about four inches was recorded on the Seattle waterfront. 


We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the Oct 26
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates