MOCLIPS — The National Weather Service says the first wave of the tsunami to hit the Washington Coast measured 1.6 feet at La Push and about half a foot at Neah Bay and Port Angeles.
Science and Operations officer Kirby Cook says the tsunami advisory is still in effect for the Washington Coast and more waves could be on the way. Cook says more waves are landing in California and that means Washington and Oregon can expect more as well.
The waves were triggered by an 8.9-magnitude earthquake in Japan.
Cook says the advisory will remain in effect until the tsunami center in Alaska calls it off.
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About 60 people had evacuated to Grays Harbor Fire District No. 8 in Moclips. Volunteer firefighter Cathy Bisiack said a group of mostly elderly residents were enjoying a pancake breakfast and watching the news on TV when the waves started to hit the Washington Coast.
The evacuation in Moclips was recommended but not mandatory. Bisiack said many of the town’s residents as well as visitors stopped by the fire station for pancakes, sausage, orange juice and coffee.
“It was nice,” said Bisiack, who spent most of her Friday morning in the kitchen.
The first swelling from the tsunami to hit the U.S. mainland was noticed in Port Orford, Ore., but residents there said they barely noticed it.
Rockne Berge of the Castaway by the Sea Motel in Port Orford said he saw a band of wet sand 40 yards to 50 yards wide, evidence of high water.
“It’s extremely subtle,” he said. His motel sits about 130 feet above the beach on a bluff.
Up and down the coast, residents living near the beach left their homes and sought higher ground after sirens sounded in the early morning hours.
Albert Wood of Seaside said he and his wife decided to leave their home late Thursday after watching news about the Japan quake.
“Just before midnight, we decided to pack up and head to higher ground,” he said.
They were among dozens of Seaside residents who drove into a hilly area overlooking the tourist town to wait it out.
Earlier Friday, there were streams of eastbound traffic on some roads near the coast as residents sought higher ground, and long lines were reported at some gas stations.
Coastal communities had been bracing for waves of up to 6 feet. Nothing that large had been reported by midmorning.
Schools up and down the coast were closed.
Gov. John Kitzhaber issued a statement urging “all Oregonians along the coast to heed tsunami alarms and follow instructions from public safety officials about heading to higher ground.”
Kitzhaber added, “Our thoughts are with the people of Japan.”
Emergency management officials have been up all night making preparations after getting word of the tsunami.