5TH UPDATE (5:30 p.m.) -- Small waves on the coast, but tsunami advisory continues after North Olympic Peninsula evacuations
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LaPush police patrol near the coastal mouth of the Quillayute River on Friday morning. The rocky coastal islands of the Quillayute Needles National Wildlife Refuge are in the background.
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Port Angeles police cars block the road to Ediz Hook, which stretches along Port Angeles Harbor, as a precaution Friday morning after the tsunami advisory.

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Cape Flattery School District schools closed; far to the south, an evacuation in Moclips
Schools in Neah Bay and Clallam Bay are closed today because of the tsunami advisory.

About 60 people had evacuated to Grays Harbor Fire District No. 8 in Moclips this morning.

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 southern Olympic Peninsula 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.

Jody Bourgeois, a University of Washington tsunami expert, is in Japan working with earthquake scientists, university officials said Friday morning.

“I felt the earthquake big time,” Bourgeois, a UW professor of Earth and space sciences who has done extensive tsunami research along Asia's Pacific Coast, said in an e-mail message.

“The shaking lasted almost three minutes and I got motion sickness.

"There were several large aftershocks.”

Bourgeois is working at the University of Hokkaido in Sapporo, about 300 miles north of the earthquake epicenter.

She said the building in which she was working had recently been seismically retrofitted and survived the intense shaking.

“We spent several hours watching live video feeds while people ran in and out with new seismograms and tide gauge records. You can imagine that this place is abuzz,” Bourgeois wrote.

“The videos look terrible, though it is scientifically interesting to me.”

Peninsula Daily News and Associated Press
By Tom Callis
Paul Gottlieb
and Paige Dickerson
Peninsula Daily News
EMERGENCY MANAGERS ARE continuing to watch the North Olympic Peninsula coastlines for signs of more tsunami waves in the aftermath of the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Japan.

Authorities say there have been no reports of damage or injuries but, as of 5:30 p.m. Friday, had yet to receive the order to stand down.

The coastline remained under a tsunami advisory — "strong currents likely; stay away from the shore."

Emergency operation centers in both counties went online shortly after the quake hit Japan at 9:46 p.m. Thursday.

But waves on the coast were much smaller than expected — they were similar to those of a stormy day — and evacuees, mostly tribal reservation residents, were told they could return home.

The National Weather Service said the first waves of the earthquake-spawned tsunami to hit the Peninsula just after 7 a.m. measured 1.7 feet at La Push, about half a foot at Neah Bay and Port Angeles — and 1.3 feet far to the south at Westport in Grays Harbor County.

None of the waves appeared to have exceeded the high tide mark, said Jamye Wisecup, Clallam County Emergency Management Department program coordinator.

At the Makah reservation In Neah Bay, the largest reported wave reached all the way up the beach into nearby grass, said Police Chief Sam White.

Neah Bay was one of three reservations on the Peninsula that evacuated residents away from the shoreline.

Dozens of Makah tribal members living along the shore were moved inland at 6 a.m. Friday. They have since been allowed to return to their homes.

In LaPush, the Quileute tribe encouraged its approximately 350 to 400 lower village residents to move uphill to the A-Ka-Lat Center.

An estimate of how many went to the center early Friday morning was not immediately available.

The tribe also canceled school for the day.

The Lower Elwha Klallam tribe, located just west of Port Angeles along the Strait of Juan de Fuca, about 75 miles from the Pacific coast, evacuated four families from low-lying areas at 6 a.m. They were notified a few hours later that it was safe to return.

The Hoh tribe, in southwestern Jefferson County at the mouth of the Hoh river, did not evacuate, said Bob Hamlin, Jefferson County's emergency manager.

Hamlin said the tribe told him that the tide went out unusually far — a telltale sign that a tsunami is coming — but that it “reversed and that was it. It was a fairly minor event."

In Port Angeles, Ediz Hook Road along the Port Angeles Harbor was closed from about 7 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. as a precaution.

The Coast Guard station at the tip of Ediz Hood was staffed with only critical personnel during that time period.

White said it was the first time in at least 3 years that Neah Bay residents have had to be evacuated as the result of a tsunami warning.

“We have an observation of water reaching the grass line but not reaching the banks of the coast,” he said.

White said it takes four hours to do a complete evacuation of Neah Bay.

“The coastline is the first [place] we worried about, so that's where we started,” he said.
________
Reporter Tom Callis can be reached at 360-417-3532 or at tom.callis@peninsuladailynews.com.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-417-3536 or at paul.gottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.
Reporter Paige Dickerson can be reached at 360-417-3535 or at paige.dickerson@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 11. 2011 5:39PM
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