Authorities expect more debris from the March 2011 Japanese Tsunami to wash up on the Pacific Coast this winter. Seasonal changes in ocean currents and North Pacific winds will push the 1.5 million tons of debris still out there towards our shores.
Just last week, authorities in Washington State were nervously tracking the massive dock in the image above. It had been spotted floating in the Pacific Ocean before authorities found it crashed into the beach of Olympic National Park on December 18th. The confirmed tsunami wreckage spent nearly two years at sea.
The tsunami that devastated Japan has left its mark on North American soil in the form of tokens large and small washed ashore on its beaches: A soccer ball inscribed in Japanese characters, a Harley Davidson motorcycle, and earlier this year, yet another massive dock. This one was 66-feet long and landed in Oregon in June:
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, estimates that five million tons of debris washed ashore as a result of the devastating tsunami, of which, about 3.5 million most likely sank shortly after the event. According to NOAA’s models, a majority of the remaining debris is still scattered north and east of Hawaii. In other words, it’s headed for the Pacific Coast. The expected range of landfall for this flotsam is from Southern California to Alaska.
Floating ocean debris can be monitored from NOAA’s main marine debris information site, as well as from its Tsunami-related debris hub. According NOAA it has “received approximately 1,432 official debris reports, of which 17 have been confirmed as definite tsunami debris” as of December 13th.” Last month, the Japanese government donated $5 million to the US to help with marine debris. In July, NOAA donated $50,000 to each of Alaska, Washington, Oregon to support the effort. Any debris is mostly likely not radioactive but you should contact the proper authorities if you have information about any. [AP and NOAA ]
Images via Rick Bowmer/AP, Ecology WA