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San Diegans Advised To Stay Off Beaches

A tsunami advisory was in effect in the San Diego area today as a precaution in the aftermath of a devastating magnitude-8.9 earthquake in Japan, but as of late this morning, no major problems had been reporteed.

Crowds gather along the beach in Ocean Beach after the earthquake in Japan.
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Above: Crowds gather along the beach in Ocean Beach after the earthquake in Japan.

Waves emanating to the southeast from the epicenter of the temblor -- reportedly the fifth most powerful ever recorded -- arrived in San Diego County shortly after 8:30 a.m., causing "significant tide fluctuations" in several areas, according to the National Weather Service.

The swells, which resulted in no immediate reports of injuries or property damage, caused the ocean to briefly rise 2.8 feet in La Jolla, 1.2 feet at San Diego Navy Pier and 2.6 feet in northern Imperial Beach, according to the Weather Service.

At Quivira Basin in Mission Bay, the water receded by roughly three feet about 9 a.m., said Maurice Luque, a spokesman for the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department. The harbor was returning to its prior level a half-hour or so later.

"It's not disruptive," he said. "It's a very gentle flow of water. It's not knocking boats around on the docks or anything like that."

Other local beach areas reported no effects at all from the tsunamiactivity.

"There's no reason to be alarmed -- just be aware," Luque advised. "We don't expect any inundation of water."

Local surges from the tsunami were likely to be much less of a problem than what was seen during the rainstorms of the past couple of months, he added.

About a dozen extra lifeguards were called in, just in case, and 30 police officers were patrolling the San Diego coastline, officials said.

A man who identified himself only as Richard told KUSI he was not concerned about the warnings.

"Not at all -- people are out, and there's been no warnings or anything, so I think it will be pretty mild," he told the news station. He added, however, that he would leave if hazard signs were posted.

Local quake-spawned ocean surges could last for 10-12 hours, producing strong currents potentially dangerous for surfers, swimmers, boaters and coastal structures, the weather service reported. Irregular stretches of coastline could increase wave heights in some areas, the agency advised.

Earlier in the morning, the tsunami struck Hawaii and the Pacific Northwest, with no major problems reported.

The quake, believed to be the largest in Japanese history, struck northeast Japan at 9:45 p.m. San Diego time, destroying buildings 240 miles away in Tokyo and triggering a 30-foot tsunami that killed hundreds of people.

Thousands more were missing.

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