Industry Market Trends
Debris from 2011 Japanese Tsunami Floating Toward U.S.: How Worried Should We Be?
November 20, 2013
updated computer model showing that some debris had reached the West Coast. Headlines dubbed it a "flotilla" and "islands" of debris floating toward the U.S., conjuring images of Godzilla attacking California in the form of a giant mass from Japan. NOAA officials quickly tried to get out in front of the story, saying that it was not nearly as severe as some made it out to be. The agency released information that was far from panic-inducing:Typhoon Haiyan has had a devastating impact on the Philippines and the world, with thousands dead and an untold amount of property damage. Images of the destruction summon memories of another enormous storm that rocked the world two years ago: the tsunami that struck Japan. What most people remember from that disaster is the meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear plant. U.S. officials allayed fears that radiation from the plant posed a threat to the West Coast. Still, there were concerns about the debris pushed into the ocean by the tsunami and whether that enormous amount of flotsam could reach U.S. shores. In the first week of November, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) released an
- The Japanese government estimated that 5 million tons of debris washed away during the tsunami.
- Seventy percent of that debris is believed to have sunk near the coast of Japan.
- High windage items might have reached the Pacific Northwest coast as early as the winter of 2011-12.
As of Nov. 7, the NOAA has received approximately 1,935 reports about debris, of which 35 were confirmed as tsunami debris.
- Computer modeling indicates a majority of the debris will be dispersed north and east of the Hawaiian archipelago.