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Japan tsunami rubble will reach West Coast

by Jim Andrews, Senior Meteorologist for AccuWeather.com

AccuWeather.com reports some of the rubble swept out to sea by the devastating Japanese tsunami of March 11 will ultimately cross the Pacific Ocean to the West Coast of the U.S., an oceanographer has stated.

Oceanographer Curt Ebbesmeyer has said that it would take about three years before West Coast residents begin to see trash stemming from the tsunami aftermath.

Whole buildings, boats and even cars have been seen floating well out to sea off eastern Japan following the tsunami.

Ebbesmeyer believes that the patch of flotsam could ultimately spread out to cover a swath more than 100 miles wide, if it were to hold together as a mass.

A major concern would be that the vast patch could get swept ashore. "If it does land, it's likely to be massive," Ebbesmeyer said.

While storms would undoubtedly shatter and break up the more fragile items, sturdy things, even boats, could ultimately end up beached intact.

Ocean currents of the North Pacific Ocean are dominated by a "gyre," a broad, clockwise circulation.

Currents off eastern Japan tend to flow east toward the Pacific Northwest, several thousand miles distant. Nearing the West Coast, this eastward current splits, both northward to the Gulf of Alaska, and southward toward California, whence it veers west toward Hawaii.

The Pacific Ocean is already known for its floating garbage, as a vast "patch" of floating trash has spread over thousands of square miles at

It is possible that some of the tsunami rubble would find its way into the "garbage patch."

West Coast residents have, for many years, found on their shores lost or discarded items originating in the Far East.

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