In Santa Cruz, it was a typical good day for surfing before the water pulled out of Monterey Bay toward the Pacific Ocean when the tsunami hit.
Around 8:10 a.m., within seconds, the water dropped by about 9 feet as the harbor turned into a river as water was sucked out to sea.
Surfers who had been paddling on their boards were able to walk with them on the wet sand. Others stayed in water, despite warnings from lifeguards to come in.
A couple of boats broke loose and part of a dock was also pulled away during one of several surges, each of which took about 10 minutes.