Category: Del Norte County

Tsunami at Mad River and Little River

The following pictures were taken by the brother of HSU Geology Alumni Nathan Hayler.  All credit goes to Charlie Hayler, the photographer.

Charlie Hayler went to Murray Field where he took his small plane up in the air the morning of March 11, 2011 to view the incoming tsunami which was a result of the Honshu, Japan earthquake.  All time stamps are of Pacific Standard Time.  Photos taken at 8:30 and 8:34 are of the mouth of the Mad River, McKinleyville, California, photos taken at 8:40 AM are further north at the mouth of Little River, near Moonstone Beach, Westhaven California.  The final photo is just north of there.  You can see the parking lot above Luffenholtz Beach and Scenic Drive, south of Trinidad, CA.

Preliminary damage estimates

These are very preliminary…and may already be out of date:
–  Crescent City Harbor and 35 boats destroyed; estimates of $20-30M (preliminary) in damages.
–  One person swept out to sea; casualty at mouth of Klamath River.
–  Noyo Harbor (Fort Bragg): 400 ft pier and 2 boats damaged
–  Berkeley Marina – boats and docks damaged; $50k
–  Santa Cruz Harbor: 20 boats sunk, 100 damaged; preliminary $17M
–  Morro Bay: damage to boats and docks 
–  Ventura Harbor: damage to several boats and a dock (8-10 hours after first wave arrival)
–  Redondo Beach Harbor:  large boat sunk
–  Catalina:  LA Times “…swells toppled about 10 boats and loosened pier moorings..”

Damage estimates for Crescent City provided by Lori Dengler

I spoke to Rich Young the Harbor Master at Crescent City.  He estimated 25 boats had left the harbor.  A handful came back in around 6 pm because they didn’t have enough fuel to get to Humboldt.  They are anchored on the south side of the main harbor.  You can see the new Humboldt fleet at the Woodley Island Marina.  It’s great that so many folks were able to safely get out and save their life’s work and resources.

We heard these estimates word of mouth and on radio:

~ 10 boats capsized and sank in the basin
~ 100 boats left the harbor before the tsunami approached the shore (I don’t know how many slips were available to begin with, but there aren’t many docks and only ~12-15 intact vessels in CC boat basin right now)
~ (radio) HumBay Harbor Commissioner Mike Wilson said he expected 40 vessels headed towards Humboldt Bay from Crescent City; other potential ports are Brookings and Coos Bay to the North.

Report from Todd Williams re Crescent City

Gwen and I went to Crescent City today, we will post all/most of them to in some form tonight. We observed a deserted boat basin with numerous pilings with no docks attached, and a bathtub ring veneer (1-2 CM) of sand on top of the barnacles & jetty rocks on the interior slope of the south & east side of the boat basin, we did not investigate the entire perimeter. Someone could bring a stadia rod or do jacobs staff measurement to get height; there is a vertical control mark in the grass near the intersection of Citizens Dock entrance & US101 ~500ft away (NW corner of int.). I can research the bench mark details if there is interest for anyone else headed up there, just e-mail me at

There are intact and broken sections of flotation dock on both beachs north and south of the boat basin. Most are flipped over exposing enormous mussels that the shorebirds are feasting/feasted on.

The estuary culvert crossing near San Mine Rd shows signs of new sand and driftwood barely crossing the highway, it was likely very thin as woody debris is small and sparse on the east side. Some medium size logs and one stump were plowed off to the west side.

Anchor Rd (first left hand turn at North end of Crescent beach, near the Chart Room rest.) is pretty amazing as up to 18″ jetty rocks were pushed across the road, and big folds of ice plant are rolled over/rolled up. Small driftwood is along the road at 101 here also. Driftwood is across Anchor on the North side of parking lot/pier. They had not made any effort to clean the rocks yet, maybe to keep cars out(?). There are painted numbered rocks apparently about every 100ft in the jetty pile, rocks #11 are displaced from the tsunami; one possibly in tact, and one in the parking lot 15-20ft away
NNE. These are dense greenstone and/or central belt franciscan.

At the second stoplight into town from the south (Front St) is a creek that passes between Tsunami park (west) and an RV park (east), if you enter the RV park and stay right going WSW along the tree line near the creek, there is evidence of the creek overspilling into the RV park, this might have happened after the surge was reflected off the nearby bridge/tide gate where 101 passes by(?). At the mouth of the creek is a displaced sailboat with its keel buried in the sand.

Parking lot at mouth of Wilson Creek north of Klamath (near hostel before going up hill) has sand and woody debris spilled into it, also very thin, but it had to over come a step up and flow in between the two openings in the rock wall to make the deposit. We did not see anything out of the ordinary at the Lagoon Creek rest area.

Lots of water in Dry lagoon, but nothing in the parking lot.

Big Lagoon looks like it has breached recently, and we both think the level was lower on return trip this afternoon at 3-4pm, we passed northbound ~10am.

Proclaimed Emergencies

The list of proclaimed emergencies can help provide an indication of where some of the more serious damage and emergence response activities may have occurred since these are initiated by local officials as a request for additional (state/federal) assistance.

* Del Norte County proclaimed a Local Emergency on 3/11/11
* Humboldt County proclaimed a Local Emergency on 3/11/11.
* Santa Cruz County proclaimed a Local Emergency on 3/11/11.
* San Mateo County proclaimed a Local Emergency on 3/11/11.
* City of Santa Cruz proclaimed a Local Emergency on 03/11/11.
* City of Half Moon Bay proclaimed a Local Emergency on 3/11/11.
* City of Pacifica proclaimed a Local Emergency on 3/11/11.
* The Governor proclaimed a State of Emergency in the counties of Del Norte, San Mateo, Humboldt and Santa Cruz to support the State’s response.