Tsunami waves up to 2 feet hit Wash. coast

Tsunami waves up to 2 feet hit Wash. coast
Waves common for a stormy springtime day crash into the beach Friday, March 11, 2011 in Moclips, Wash.
MOCLIPS, Wash. (AP) - More than 600 people briefly left their homes on Washington's coast Friday after a tsunami advisory was triggered by a massive earthquake in Japan, but vigorous waves proved similar to any stormy day on the coast.

The advisory was canceled Friday evening.

The National Weather Service said a wave of 2 feet was recorded at Westport on the central coast, with 1.8 feet at Neah Bay and 1.7 feet at La Push.

• View photos of destruction in Japan »

About 60 mostly elderly people evacuated to Grays Harbor Fire District No. 8 in Moclips, where they were served a pancake breakfast. The evacuation in Moclips was recommended but not mandatory.

Farther south, about 550 people in Pacific County headed for the high school at Ilwaco, located high on a knoll above the town, where breakfast was pizza. Friday was supposed to be pizza day at the school, so that's what was on hand when officials realized they'd need to feed the evacuees, Ben Mount, Ocean Beach School District transportation and safety director, told The Daily News of Longview.

The Pacific County evacuations were calm, without the traffic jams and reckless driving officials saw in 2004 during a similar tsunami threat evacuation. Both main routes to higher land are two-lane roads.

"Today it went very smooth," Pacific County Sheriff Scott Johnson said.

"That was the luxury of this event - the time to plan and think and react," Laurie Anderson told The Daily News. She woke guests at her Shelburne Inn in Seaview and told them to head to the Ilwaco school.

In Moclips, volunteer firefighter Cathy Bisiack said many of the small 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.

"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."

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."