How Would The Bay Area Handle a Tsunami?

The recent devastation in Japan has left many Californians concerned as to what their fates would be if the West Coast were to experience a similar earthquake and tsunami.

In general, the Golden Gate strait of the San Francisco Bay would protect most of the low-lying areas from such a disaster. This rock-lined landmark would limit the enormous currents flowing through its narrow opening, preventing a swift rise in water levels and reducing the risk of flooding inland. The problem, according to many experts, is that while the bottleneck would spare the South Bay and much of the Peninsula from the destruction suffered in Japan- it would also direct the main force of the tsunami towards Alameda and Oakland’s port.

“The narrow mouth of the Bay really protects much of the area from the kinds of surges we saw in Japan,” said tsunami expert Lori Dengler. She went on the say that the greater concern should be “the strong currents that cause damage to structures” in areas such as Oakland.

So… What Kind of Damage Are We Talking About?

Scientists have always considered such a tsunami to be highly improbable. However, as the information on tsunamis becomes broader and less consistent, many experts have begun to consider various means of protection, just in case. Disaster planning is now higher on the agenda.

While the Bay Area was not hit badly during Japan’s quake, Santa Cruz Harbor suffered $22.5 million in damage, while the coastal towns of Crescent City and other coastal communities in the region suffered far greater damage. They were fortunate that the tsunami hit at low tide.

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