Google's home page turned into a tsunami alert Friday shortly after the 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck Japan and triggered massive waves. As in past cases of devastating natural disasters, social media and Internet-related services provided a way for people to make a quick connection.
In an early morning Friday call with Covario's public relations director Rick Clancy and CMO Craig Macdonald, the two talked about a coworker, Taro Kaji, who resides on the east side of Tokyo. He emailed colleagues at the San Diego, Calif. headquarters this morning, noting:
"There was a huge and very scary earthquake in Japan, the biggest one in Japan's history, mainly on the east side, which covers where I reside and all of our clients' Japan offices. It occurred about 8 hours ago from now, and most of the transport is now in chaos, and we are still getting the aftershock almost every hour. It seem like the area that was hardest hit with tsunami devastating the area was northeast of Japan, which is far away from where I live and where our clients' offices are."
The SearchIgnite Japan team and their families are doing okay, according to a spokesperson, but as expected, there is great upheaval in the country.
Photos and video coming from Japan show boats, cars and houses tossed around like toys. Reaction to the earthquake on Twitter slowed the service to a crawl, followed by a halt and crash. An error message read: Loading Tweets seems to be taking a while. Twitter may be over capacity or experiencing a momentary hiccup. Try again or visit Twitter Status for more information. Top trending words were #prayforjapan, #tsunami, and #japon.
Tsunami warnings issued across the Hawaiian Islands directed residents of low-lying areas to move inland to higher ground, but no damage or injuries occurred. Warnings were also issued down the U.S. West Coast, from Alaska to Santa Barbara, Calif., followed by alerts in Southern California to San Diego County.
Some schools closed Friday in Southern California as a precaution. Officials warned residents to stay away from the coastline. Select beaches and piers in Orange Country closed, prohibiting surfing and fishing along the coast.
Waves were estimated to arrive at Southern California coastal communities about 8:45 a.m. Pacific Time in Newport Beach, Calif. The Los Angeles Times reports "Point Conception could see 'tsunami inundation measuring between 3.5 to 7 feet,'" according to the National Weather Service.