Update 5:15PM ET: Local TV news station reports 5 people swept out to sea in California. Government authorities are still advocating caution. The swells are nearing their end, but this is a very unpredictable condition, despite the efforts of scientists to track. Continue to remain as far from the coast as you can.
Update 3:40PM ET: Merc now reports Santa Cruz harbor damaged, man lost. This is exactly what I was talking about. Dude was taking pictures and got swept out to sea. We hope he's found, but this is also a cautionary tale. Don't let this happen to you.
Update 1:17PM ET: Merc reports some boats have been knocked loose. This gives an idea of the potential risk to rubberneckers. Having a boat slam into you can ruin your whole day. Stay safe, people.
Update 10:45AM ET: One other thing to note: these are not normal waves. A "normal" 3-foot wave might go in and out in a few seconds. These could be miles and miles long, so it's three feet of water that just keeps coming and coming. Heed this warning and listen to the guidance of local law enforcement. This is a no-kidding event.
Update 10:26AM ET: Authorities report this is expected to be a multiple-wave event. So even if the first wave hits and everything seems okay, stay away because there will be follow-on waves.
I'm going to make this short and sweet, since the news is changing rapidly. Officials are expecting tsunami-generated waves to hit the west coast of the United States shortly.
These waves are unpredictable and even though the news reports are saying they're going to be about 3-feet tall, that's not necessarily what will hit all beaches.
A 3-foot tall wave means a 3-foot tall hole, and that means a full 6-foot (or more) pile of water. If you're on the beach, you WILL NOT survive a 6-foot flow of water.
So, stay off the beaches. Your best bet is to stay far, far away from beaches, but be at least 100 feet UP, either on a bluff or a nearby mountain. And if you're climbing a structure, make sure the structure you're climbing is also NOT on the beach.
This is serious stuff, folks. Don't put your life on the line because you're curious or you want to get some page traffic.
STAY OFF THE BEACHES!!