After the earthquake in Samoa on Tuesday, September 29, the Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska, at 7:24 p.m., issued its sixth update for the California and Oregon coast.
The advisory specific for the Southern California area stated, “A tsunami has been generated which could impact the advisory region. Low-lying coastal areas should be alert to instructions from their local emergency officials. Evacuations are only ordered by emergency response agencies. Persons in tsunami advisory areas should move out of the water...off the beach and out of harbors and marinas.”
The advisory stated that the “six to eight inches” of tsunami waves should hit La Jolla at 9:16 p.m. At 9:00 p.m., I parked on the beach-view bluff on San Elijo Avenue, overlooking the reef at Cardiff beach. I placed myself well east of the tsunami evacuation zone signs permanently posted at the corner of Coast Highway 101 at Chesterfield Drive.
The floodlights from the Chart House restaurant lit up the shoreline. For 25 minutes, I watched the gently rolling one-to-two-foot waves with no notice of increased tidal or wave action. There was, however, very light traffic on the Coast Highway, unusual for that time of night.
At 9:25, I headed for the beach parking area south of the Chart House to watch the ocean with 15 other tsunami observers. They said nothing had changed in the past half hour.
At 9:37 p.m., a helicopter flew over the area, about 100 feet above the ocean, 100 yards out from the beach. The copter went north to Encinitas, turned around, and flew back south down the beach.