Tsunami Warning Alert for Pacific Coast

The Center for U.S. Pacific Notices today expanded tsunami warning alertness to Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, the Pitcairn Islands and French Polynesia after the earthquake of 8.8 degrees on the Richter scale recorded in Chile.

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As measured by a pair of flip-flops

It was just after 1PM Saturday. We were in Poneloya at one of those thatched-roof restaurants that hang over the estuary, with a view of the ocean beach on both sides of the inlet. The water level was high, lapping under our perch, but the tide had changed and the current flowing out was picking up speed. Flip-flops from off a rock were being swept out to sea. Watching the pair separate, moving to the center of the channel, in the leisure of the beautiful afternoon, I noticed a surge at the mouth of the inlet. The wave action there is normally more spectacular than along the beach, particularly when the the estuary is emptying into the incoming surf. But this surge didn't appear like a wave, rather it was more like a sudden change in the height of the ocean, even though it was little more than a foot tall, pushing through & under the wave crests, it was obvious. One could call it a 'wall' from the sight of its front edge, but it extended into the Pacific, with no noticable trailing edge. As it swept up the estuary, bathers on the shore & by the rocks moved warily out of the water. The current reversed. Those flip-flops moved back inland. We became fascinated with their journey; such puzzling behavior. The rubber-sponge sandles traveled some 100 yds back 'up-stream' with the surge-current. Then, some 5-10 minutes later, the water level as suddenly lowered, exposing rocks and the sandy bottom that had been more than a foot underwater. That pair of sandles swung in toward shore and to the bathers intent on their recovery. Waders were spooked by the swift rise & equally swift drop of the water, stepping back ashore to watch this strange behavior in safety. The flip-flops came back within 10 yds of shore and a brave (or economically-driven) woman waded out to fetch them.

_____ At the time, we knew nothing of the strong earthquake in Chile, that occurred some 11-12 hours earlier, and its tsunami that had begun its (what?) 6-8,000 mile journey to Poneloya, Nicaragua. Drinking, eating, absorbing the infinite beauty of ocean & sky, we slipped back into normalcy. The curiously circular sojourn of lost, then delivered flip-flops got parked in memory.

_____ Was this the Chilean tsunami, could it have travelled so fast?

Yep

The tsunami hit Hilo, HI around 3 pm local time, and was only ~1m high there. But S. California reported a series of surges at midday: http://laist.com/2010/02/27/the_88_magnitude_earthquake_that.php. So 1 pm in Nicaragua is just about right. Very cool, and great story!

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Life is what happens while we're busy making other plans

Nicely written!

I bet it could have been from the quake. There were reports that the tsunami waves traveled at the speed of a jetliner.

If it was from Chile, it was bit later than predicted.

The Nicaraguan military were aware of the earthquake at 3:45am on Saturday 27th of February and then later were told by several foreign agencies specializing in seismology that a tsunami was possible. The National System for Prevention, Mitigation and Attention of Disasters (SINAPRED) took over command of the situation. By 6:00am, the warning was confirmed and varies agencies were predicting that if a tsunami developed, it would hit San Juan del Sur at 8:45am, Puerto Sandino at 9:15 am and then Puerto Corinto just 5 minute after that.

I guess its too much of a coincidence not to be connected and after all, the times are only predictions.