Tsunami kisses Bay Area shoreline

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People strolled leisurely along Ocean Beach on Saturday, largely ignoring warnings from federal park officials and a tsunami advisory issued in the aftermath of a massive 8.8-magnitude earthquake in Chile.

Water levels rose about 1 foot in some areas along the Bay Area coastline but no damage was reported.

National Park Service officials posted signs and warned residents to stay away from the shoreline, but there were no federally controlled beaches closed, according to National Park Service spokeswoman Chris Powell.

The National Weather Service issued the tsunami advisory — which is not as serious as a warning — for Bay Area coastlines.

The tsunami was expected to hit the Bay Area coast about 1:26 p.m.

About 1:30 p.m., a series of waves washed onto the roadway at Fort Point, which was then closed for about 30 minutes, Powell said. Otherwise, the waves were largely imperceptible. A tsunami is not a single wave, but a series of waves that can be as far apart as one hour. 

“We warned people about it, and I think they understood,” Powell said. “Like always, you have people who come down to the beach to see the high surf. All in all, everyone came out safely.”

Mayor Gavin Newsom and Department of Emergency Management Executive Director Vicki Hennessy met Saturday with public safety department heads and decided not to sound The City’s early warning system, Newsom said.

Flights from Bay Area airports to Hawaii were delayed after a tsunami warning was issued for the island chain.

In San Mateo County, the Pillar Point harbormaster reported up to 18-inch increases and as low as 48-inch decreases in the tide height. None of the coast cities reported any issues due to the changing tide levels, according to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department.

Chilean earthquake information

For Chileans:
Chilean Embassy
Consulado de Chile en Washington, D.C.
Phone: (202) 530-4104, (202) 530-4106, (202) 530-4107
E-mail: consulado@embassyofchile.org
Web: www.chile-usa.org

San Francisco Consulate
Consulado General de Chile en San Francisco
Phone: (415) 982-7662
E-mail: cgsfchile@sbcglobal.net

For U.S. Citizens
Contact the Chile Task Force
Phone: (888) 407-4747
E-mail: ChileEarthquake@state.gov
Web: travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/pa/chile_earthquake.html?tsp=1

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

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