Amami Superman Photography

A Place to Share My Photos

Mar 2, 2010

Tsunami in Amami

Posted by Amami Superman

Tsunami at the Amami Fishing Port

Curiosity and stupidity won out over caution and fear last Sunday. After the an 8.8 earthquake in Chile on Saturday, most of the Pacific was on tsunami alert. They estimated that the tsunami would hit here in Amami around 2:30pm and would be around 1 to 2 meters high. We went up to a look out over Tebiro to watch the effects of the tsunami, but nothing happened and we decided to go home just before 4:00pm.

We arrived at home before 5:00pm and I was at my computer uploading the photos I took from my SD card to my computer when all of a sudden, sirens started to blare. The sirens sounded like the kind you would hear in war movies before an air strike bombing was about to occur. My mind raced as I wondered what to do. My wife and daughter were in the city doing some shopping and I was all alone. Knowing that warnings are for a reason and against my best judgement, I grabbed my other SD card, my camera and headed off down the street to the fishing port. To my surprise, there were other people there as well to check out the tsunami.

When I first arrived, you could already see on the pier just how high the water had risen already and it was receding when I got there. I found this ladder in the above slide show to use as a measure to see how much the sea level was changing in just a few minutes. After just taking a hand full of photos, my camera was out of batteries and I ran back home to grab a new one. Before I left to get a new battery, I saw the sea level drop below the last rung on the ladder.

After getting back, I started taking photos again. More people showed up and soon we had a small crowd standing around watching the sea rise and fall. I estimated by this ladder and how tall I am that it probably rose and fell about 120cm-140cm in the space of about 20 minutes. This happen 3 times in the hour I stood there taking photos. The highest I saw it get was about 20cm-30cm from the lip of the port edge I was standing on. Just across the way were they have a building that makes ice for the fishing boats, the port pier there is a little lower than where I was standing and the sea level was right at the top about to spill over at one point.

I didn't know how long it was going to last, but I felt I was pushing my luck and I didn't want to take any more chances than I already had, so I headed home. I heard a few more warnings come across a loud speaker after that, but no sirens.

Here is another slide show of the pier looking towards the fish market. I made a post last year of the fish market you can find here.

Tsunami at the Amami Fish Market

I now realize that a tsunami isn't something you can see by just looking at the ocean. It's so huge, it moves like the tide. It's only until the water would breach and flood into the inland that you wouldn't really notice anything; the water was relatively calm. If you were just strolling by and looked at the port, you would never notice that it was in the middle of a tsunami. If the tsunami was just a meter higher, it would have washed inland a few hundred meters I imagine.

So those were the photos I took against my better judgement of the effect the tsunami had in Amami. I don't know if it got any higher than what I took photos of, but I'm glad I left early to be on the safe side.

The time intervals vary between shots for both of these slide shows. I was interested in taking photos, but I was more interested in not getting caught in flooding tsunami waters if it did breech. I was pretty much ready to bolt at anytime to the building across the street if things looked like they were going south. You may think that maybe a little over exaggerated, but the sea level doesn't get that high even during the highest of tides. Sometimes you get surge swells during a typhoon, but those aren't even quite as scary as seeing an ocean that calm rising so quickly. It's unnerving.


Jeffrey Friedl said...

"It's so huge, it moves like the tide" -- that's why it's called a "tidal wave" :-)

There are so many photos in each slideshow that it's a bit difficult to see any difference... it might be more effective to reduce each to three or four photos....

Amami Superman said...

I wasn't aware that tidal waves and tsunami's were the same thing. I've heard of tidal waves but I didn't know they were referring to tsunami's.

As for the how many photos there are, I understand what you're saying. The whole slide show was to show the rise and fall of the sea (three times), in the hour I was there. The rise and fall wasn't steady. In the space of sometimes only 30 seconds, the sea would rise nearly a foot. Then it would only rise an inch or two every two minutes or so. I did, however, go in and remove almost half the photos so you could see a bigger difference between photos on the ladder slide show.

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