Tsunami waves from Chile earthquake expected to reach Orange County, local beaches to close

After a magnitude 8.3 earthquake struck off Chile on Wednesday afternoon, the National Weather Service issued a tsunami advisory for the coast of Southern California, from San Onofre State Beach north to San Luis Obispo.

The waves are expected to be small, less than 1 foot at Newport Beach above the usual tide, the NWS advisory said, but the currents may be hazardous to swimmers and boats for many hours. It’s expected to arrive at 4:46 a.m.

All Orange County beaches, harbors and marinas will be closed as of 4 a.m. because of dangerous currents, said Jeff Hallock of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. Dana Point Harbor will close at 2 a.m.

No evacuations are ordered, Hallock stressed.

The Orange County Emergency Operations Center tweeted Wednesday that “no widespread inundation was expected on OC coast” and those near the beach were asked to move off the beach and out of harbors and marinas, and not to go to the coast to observe the tsunami.

The advisory will be in effect until further notice. For more information, the Emergency Operations Center has a public hotline about the tsunami at 714-628-7085 or go to the National Tsunami Warning Center at ntwc.arh.noaa.gov..

A watch means that a tsunami is possible, but it doesn’t mean it will happen, said Chevy Chevalier, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Honolulu.

“A watch is for everybody to be aware of it, that it’s a possibility,” he said. “A warning means it’s happening right now or it’s imminent.”

The powerful earthquake shook Chile’s capital, causing buildings to sway and people to take refuge in the streets. Several strong aftershocks hit within minutes as tsunami alarms sounded in the nearby port of Valparaiso. There were no immediate reports of injuries, but authorities said some adobe houses collapsed in the inland city of Illapel, about 175 miles north of Santiago.

Waves measuring as high as 15.3 feet were reported in Coquimbo, according to the NWS.

Staff Writer Louis Casiano Jr. and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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