It was shocking news:
As the U.K.'s Daily Mail newspaper put it, an "island of debris the size of TEXAS" was headed to some lucky beach in California. The floating riffraff was from Japan's earthquake-generated tsunami of 2011, reports said.
Except it wasn't true:
Apparently the news outlets misinterpreted a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration graphic that showed a debris field north of Hawaii and headed our way.
It wasn't meant to be taken so literally. The NOAA:
Here's the bottom line: There is no solid mass of debris from Japan heading to the United States.
At this point, nearly three years after the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, whatever debris remains floating is very spread out. It is spread out so much that you could fly a plane over the Pacific Ocean and not see any debris since it is spread over a huge area, and most of the debris is small, hard-to-see objects.
Much of the debris has already come ashore, and what hasn't is not in a giant mass, NOAA says:
NOAA has modeled the debris' movement, and the model shows the overall spread of all simulated debris and an area where there may be a higher concentration of lower floating debris (such as wood) in one part of the Pacific. However, that doesn't mean it's in a mass, and it doesn't tell us how much is there, it just shows there may be more debris there than in other areas.
So that junk you'll see at the beach after the next storm is probably just our own.