What the Japan Earthquake Means for the Rest of Us

Lindsay Mannering

tsunamiAn earthquake measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale struck near Okinawa, Japan at 2:46 p.m. Tokyo time on Friday, and the effects have been devastating. The quake is the largest one worldwide since the Northern Sumatra one in 2004, which killed over 200,000 people. So far the death toll in Japan is already in the hundreds, but that's expected to rise significantly. The effects of the quake are far-reaching and Hawaii news, Fox News, NBC News, and nearly every other media outlet is warning residents in Hawaii and the US west coast to stay alert and listen to the local reports -- a tsunami is on the way.

Hawaii has already been hit -- waves were not unusually high -- but Honolulu authorities are still preparing for the worst and praying for the best. Now the tsunami, traveling 500 mph, is headed for the continental US.

If the tsunami is in fact going to hit the US west coast, the timeline would be as follows:

  • Newport, Oregon at 7:26 a.m. local time, 10:26 a.m. EST
  • San Francisco, California at 8:08 a.m. local time, 11:08 a.m. EST

Chip McCreery, director for the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, told the Wall Street Journal about the power of tsunamis:

They're going to be coming in with high currents, they can pick up boulders from the sea floor ... they can pick up cars, they can pick up fuel tanks, those things become battering rams, and so it just amplifies the destruction in a big tsunami.

President Obama says the US is ready to help Japan, and has instructed the Federal Emergency Management system to be prepared to help any US territory that may be affected by this natural disaster.

Russia, Taiwan, Indonesia, Australia, and Papua New Guinea are also under alert. It is amazing how instantly small our planet can become, and how interconnected we really are. New York City hasn't had an earthquake since 1884, but we'll likely feel the effects of Japan's earthquake and tsunami, not with tremors or tidal waves, but with decline in imports, increase in shipping costs, and other tactile consequences. It is an extremely sad reminder that we're all one.


Photo via MikeBlogs/Flickr

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