1946: April Fool’s Tidal Wave: Coast Keeps Midnight Watch on High Tide

Tuesday, April 2, 1946

From the San Mateo Times:

“Princeton. April 2–Coastside residents today were taking the cycle of total waves in stride. Consensus of opinion was that there was nothing they could do about it, individually or collectively. After reading newspaper accounts and hearing radio reports of what happened in the Hawaiian Islands and elsewhere, local residents took the viewpoint that they were lucky with no lives lost and comparatively small property loss.

“Fearful that a high tide at midnight last night might result in more damage, a number of persons gathered at the Nerli restaurant to keep a midnight watch on the tide. Shortly after midnight, the restaurant closed and all departed.

“Several telephone calls were received at the coast guard station asking if a special watch were being kept and if a warning could be issued. Advised that Twelfth naval district orders had put the coast guard complement on the alert over night the persons, thus assured, apparently went to bed.

“No unusual concern nor alarm was reported from Half Moon Bay, or other Coastside reports during the night.

“Tide schedules were all out of line. On the surface the sea appeared smooth.

“Most of the fishing fleet came in mid-morning and anchored well out. Crew members went about their jobs as if nothing had happened.

“Hardest hit section in the Half Moon Bay area was in the vicinity of the cove at the north end of Princeton. Several houses were flooded and a number of boats were washed inland.

“Mrs. James W. Healy was busily engaged today with a hoe scraping mud and sea-weed from her living room.

“‘After the midnight high tide, and with nothing more happening, we went to bed. This is a mess, but when I think of what happened in the Hawaiian Islands I don’t think we can complain too much.’

“Mrs. Healey’s reaction was echoed by other housewives busy with removing traces of the uninvited tidal wave yesterday.

“At the coast guard station guardsmen were busy cleaning up sea damage. Several tons of coal were washed away and one barracks building damaged. Mops and buckets were put into service to clean out the barracks floor.

“State highway patrolmen directed workmen in clearing debris from the highway near Princeton Packers and got the road in passable shape.

“Ocean water from Monday’s series of tidal waves got into the boiler room of the tracking plant but did not get into the office.

“Spectators from San Francisco and distant points, began to arrive early this morning. Many came yesterday afternoon and last night.

“Heavy waves, four to five feet above normal tide level were reported pounding in all along the Northern California coast, according to press association reports. No immediate reports of casualities or property damage were received.

“A strong undertow agitated the San Cruz harbor today. An estimated ebb and flow of three knots was reported. The under current was too strong to enable anchoring craft at fishing piers. Most of the boats were taken outside the harbor proper and anchored in the bay.”

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