A scare, then relief after powerful Japan quake and tsunami This aerial photo shows Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, following a strong earthquake hit off the coast of Fukushima, northern Japan, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016. (Kyodo News via AP/Yosuke Mizuno)
A scare, then relief after powerful Japan quake and tsunami
Lexile

At first, it was 2011 all over again.
 
"It really came back. And it was so awful. The sways to the side were huge," Kazuhiro Onuki said after northeastern Japan was jolted Nov. 22 by a magnitude-7.4 earthquake. The quake was the strongest since a devastating quake and tsunami five years ago.
 
"But nothing fell from the shelves," Onuki, 68, said in a phone interview, his voice calm and quiet.
 
Coastal residents returned home from higher ground, and fishing boats to port, after tsunami warnings were lifted along Japan's Pacific coast. The earthquake gave Tokyo, which is 150 miles away, a good shake. But it was much less powerful than the magnitude-9.0 quake in 2011. This time, only moderate tsunami waves reached shore.
 
The Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, which leaked radiation for miles after the 2011 tsunami, reported no problems. Decommissioning work on the destroyed reactors was suspended and the site inspected.
 
At least 14 people were reported injured. Three suffered broken bones. Japanese TV showed items scattered on the floor in a store and books fallen from shelves in a library.
 
On the coast, lines of cars snaked away in the pre-dawn darkness. Authorities had urged residents to seek higher ground immediately.
 
The first tsunami waves hit about an hour later. The highest one was 4.6 feet. It reached Sendai Bay about two hours after the quake. By comparison, the waves in 2011 were 30 to 60 feet high.
 
The evacuation appeared to proceed calmly. Katushiro Abe, a 47-year-old tourism official in Ishinomaki, a city hit hard by the 2011 tsunami, was on the early shift and already in the office. But his wife and teenage daughter fled their home.
 
He said his family jumped in a car and drove to the foot of a nearby hill and rushed up.
 
Tsunami alerts have been issued at least two times since 2011, he said. He said his family was prepared and wasn't that alarmed. "We stayed in touch by email," he said.
 
It was the largest earthquake in northeastern Japan since the one in 2011 and some large aftershocks the same day. The U.S. Geological Survey measured the latest quake at a lower magnitude 6.9.
 
The Japan Meteorological Agency described it as an aftershock of the 2011 quake. That one triggered a tsunami that killed about 18,000 people. It wiped out entire neighborhoods.
 
"Aftershocks could continue not only for five years but as long as 100 years," Yasuhiro Umeda, a Kyoto University seismologist, said on Japanese broadcaster NTV.
 
In some areas, water could be seen moving up rivers. The rivers funnel the waves to even greater heights. But the level of the water remained well within flood embankments. It was eerily reminiscent of the 2011 disaster. That's when much larger waves rushed up rivers and overflowed. Those waves swept away houses and automobiles.
 
Captains took their boats out to sea to avoid any damage as the waves rolled in.
 
"When I evacuated offshore, I experienced unusual waves," crew leader Hideo Ohira said after returning to Onahama port. "But they were not that big."
 
TEPCO, the utility that operates the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, said a swelling of the tide of up to 3 feet was detected offshore.
 
The plant is being decommissioned after the 2011 tsunami sent three of its reactors into meltdown. The site remains at risk. This is while the utility figures out how to remove still-radioactive fuel rods and debris and what to do with the melted reactor cores.
 
At the nearby Fukushima Dai-ni plant, TEPCO said a pump that supplies cooling water to a spent fuel pool stopped working. A backup pump went into action after about 90 minutes. The temperature rose less than one degree.
 
Naohiro Masuda is head of TEPCO's decommissioning unit. He believes a safety system shut off the pump automatically as the water in the pool shook.
 
Onuki, the man who recalled the 2011 quake, has not been able to return to his home in Tomioka since then. The town remains a no-go zone because of radioactive contamination. He was staying at what he calls one of his temporary homes.
 
"I felt again that we should not have nuclear power," he said.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why do captains take their boats out to sea to avoid damage?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (21)
  • carlp1-par
    12/05/2016 - 08:21 a.m.

    They do that to avoid damage because if powerful waves come in they could get smashed right into the shore. They don't want a smashed boat.

  • maxc12-par
    12/05/2016 - 08:21 a.m.

    They take their boats out to sea, because if they let their boats stay there, then the tsunami would wipe them out into shore, and destroy their boats.

  • jaydenh12-par
    12/05/2016 - 08:21 a.m.

    The waves usually build up near shore as you might see if you live near a beach that the farther out you look the waves start to decrease.

  • caleba1-par
    12/05/2016 - 08:22 a.m.

    The captains took there boats out to sea to avoid damage because the waves were so unusual that the captains didn't want the boats to crash or get sink. It might not have happened, but the waves were unusual, so they didn't know what else to do.

  • eanp1-par
    12/05/2016 - 08:22 a.m.

    The captains take their boats out to sea so they don't have the tsunamis flood their town when they are in it.

  • benp1-par
    12/05/2016 - 08:23 a.m.

    captains take their boats out to see to avoid the tsunami

  • henryd1-par
    12/05/2016 - 08:23 a.m.

    captains take their boats out to sea to avoid damage because, if they go out far enough, the larger waves might not have formed yet, which makes it so their boats will not be impacted by the gargantuan waves (but in this case the waves were not huge)

  • alliem23-par
    12/05/2016 - 08:26 a.m.

    Captains take their boats out to sea to avoid damage because waves do not form farther out. It may be a little shaky,but the captains avoid the worst part of the tsunami. Instead of having their boat capsized, the boat is secure out at sea.

  • irisp-ste
    12/05/2016 - 09:05 a.m.

    Owners of boats may avoid damage by taking their boats out to the see rather than keeping it docked. If the marina is in an area where the land could face damage, taking the boat out of that area will decrease the chances of the boat being ruined by a natural disaster on land.

  • metau-cel
    12/05/2016 - 09:55 a.m.

    Captains would take their boats out to sea in the time of Tsunamis because the shore and land is the only area of the ocean truly effected by the powerful waves. If the boats are out on the ocean they are far from the huge waves and risk of being brought onto land by them. During Tsunamis the water moves inward causing rivers to flood and the land to be taken over so if the boats are far out the water will have no effect on them due to the fact it is all moving in.

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