Southern California environment news and trends

Japanese tsunami debris expected to reach California shores

Mercer 19360

University of Hawaii/NOAA

Millions of tons of debris from the tsunami in Japan are washing toward the western U.S. and could make landfall in spring, 2013.

The catastrophic 9.0 tsunami that rocked the coast of Japan last March was more than just devastating. Destroying whole villages and reducing the Miyagi Prefecture down to little more than a pile of rubble, it also swept everything in its path – buildings, cars, boats, furniture and more – out to sea. All of which is heading directly for the shores of the western United States, including Hawaii, Washington and of course, California.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency’s Marine Debris Program, all of that stuff (pretty much anything that floats) started showing up last September when fishing buoys from the disaster washed up here in California. The floating detritus, once moving in huge debris fields, has broken down into millions of smaller pieces headed right in our direction.