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Scientists: Crescent City is a tsunami magnet

March 14, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Scientists say Crescent City in far northwest California is a tsunami magnet. Since 1934, the small port city has been hit by 34 tsunamis.

On Friday, the Japanese tsunami sank 11 boats and damaged dozens more in the Crescent City Harbor. The waves also ripped up the docks.

Scientists say the harbor's small size is one reason it's so vulnerable to tsunami waves.

Mike Dayton, acting secretary of the Emergency Management Agency, estimates that statewide damage from last week's tsunami exceeds $40 million.

The latest tsunami also took a young man who was on the beach with friends taking pictures about 20 miles to the south at the mouth of the Klamath River.

"When you look at the contiguous 48 states, there is no question that Crescent City has had more damage, and typically has the highest water levels recorded at any West Coast site, no matter where it comes from - whether it comes from Chile, or Alaska or Japan," said Lori Dengler, professor of geology and chair of the Geology and Oceanography departments at Humboldt State University.

A network of deep-sea warning sensors alerted the whole West Coast hours in advance before the surges from the 8.9 earthquake off Japan hit here on Friday morning.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.