Update: A National Weather Service tsunami warning for the L.A. coast has been downgraded to a tsunami advisory. After the jump: Boats damaged in Catalina.

Could it happen in L.A.? See that story here.

The National Weather Service issued a tsunami watch for the Southern California coast this morning following northern Japan's massive 8.9 earthquake.

The watch applies to Santa Monica Bay beaches at 8:39 a.m. Currents could be turbulent and obviously dangerous. Authorities might actually clear beaches beforehand. Dawn patrol? Maybe not a good idea, brah. Not that this will stop you.

Update: No big waves but this morning the Port of L.A. took “precautionary measures,” including temporarily suspending hazardous materials shipping starting at 8 a.m.

Normal shipping was not effected.

Cabrillo Beach and Royal Palms Beach were closed to the public as a precaution, and fishing was not allowed near the breakwater.

Authorities in Santa Monica were told to watch for a 3-foot surge, but that didn't seem to materialize.

L.A. County authorities were also on-watch as late as 9:03 a.m. That watch would last until evening, according to a statement:

Current intelligence indicates a 1-3-foot surge may impact the coastline of Los Angeles County. The impact of this event has the potential of lasting 10-12 hours beginning at 8:00am PST.

The Japan quake late Thursday afternoon was the fifth largest quake recorded in modern history.

A U.S. Geological Survey official said this morning that the West Coast wasn't out of the woods yet in terms of possible tsunami surges.

A surge was reported in Santa Cruz, but no damage resulted. (Actually it looks like a few boats broke free there and were damaged).

Meanwhile, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said this:

On behalf of all Angelenos I want to extend our thoughts and prayers to the people of Japan, as well as to the family and friends of victims affected by this horrible tragedy.

The City of Los Angeles stands ready and willing to help in any way it can to ease the suffering and aide in the recovery of this devastating earthquake.

Fox 11 News reported that Santa Monica Pier was closed as a precaution.

Added: City News Service reports that a county Urban Search and Rescue team was mobilizing at its Pacoima staging area in order to head to Japan to assist with search, rescue and recovery efforts there.

The county fire department sent teams to Haiti and New Zealand following major quakes in those nations.

Check the precautions being taken in O.C. here.

Update No. 2: Fox 11 News reported that Japan formally requested help from L.A. County Fire's USAR team.

L.A. city fire issued this statement:

Current intelligence indicates a 3-foot surge may impact the coastline of Los Angeles County. The impact of this event has the potential of lasting 10-12 hours beginning at 8:00am PST. Mariners are advised to use caution and monitor the National Weather Service Tsunami Warning website along with the news for updates.

Update No. 3: LAX issued a statement announcing that the following flights to Tokyo have been cancelled Friday:

1. Delta #284 from Narita: ETA 0830 hours; Outbound #283 ETD 1200 hours

2. All Nippon Airways #006 from Narita: ETA 0945; Outbound #5 ETD 1135 hours

3. Japan Airlines #62 from Narita: ETA 0950 hours; Outbound #61 ETD 1150 am

4. Delta #636 from Haneda: ETA 1805 hours; Outbound #635 ETD 0005 hours (Saturday morning after midnight)

5. AA #170 from Narita: ETA 0920 hours; Outbound #169 ETD 1140 hours

6. UAL #890 from Narita: ETA 0950 hours; Outbound #891 ETD 1150

7. Korean Airlines #1 from Narita: ETA 0745 hours already airborne);

8. ANA #1006 from Haneda: ETA 1655 hours; outbound #1005 ETD 1210 hours

Meanwhile we're monitoring reports of another “big” quake in Nagano, Japan.

Friday afternoon Gov. Jerry Brown issued this statement regarding the 8.9 shaker:

Our thoughts are with the people of Japan as they endure this tragedy. I have directed California's Emergency Management Agency to make state resources available to the Japanese government, and we stand ready to assist them.

Cal EMA has been on full alert since early this morning, and tsunami warnings were issued for the state's coastal areas. I urge Californians living in affected areas to follow all instructions from state and federal response agencies.

Update No. 4: The Port of L.A. announced Friday afternoon that it has resumed normal operations and would again be able to allow hazardous materials to be transported by sea in and out of the area.

Added: The lunchtime crowd at the Mitsua market food court in Mar Vista appeared fixated by Japanese earthquake news that was streamed on two flat screen televisions.

Steve Kunimoto, a 49-year-old teacher, told the Weekly he was unable to contact his brother in Chiba-ken Japan by phone as a result of the temblor, but that he heard from him via email.

His brother spent the night in a car last night should more quakes take down his home, Kunimoto said.

He said his brother was in L.A. for 1971's disastrous Sylmar quake and reported to him that Japan's shaker was much stronger.

Kunimoto said he contacted other family members and that “everyone is alright.”

Update No. 5: The L.A. County Fire Department's 74-member search-and-rescue team 2 is “packed and ready to go” to Japan tonight, according to a statment.

The team has “swiftwater” expertise and will bring inflatable rescue boats along for the mission, according to the LACFD.

The department says a Japanese search-and-rescue team was stuck in the Bay Area, temporarily unable to fly out as a result of complications in Tokyo, after coming to California to train with a Menlo Park team.

Added: If a good-size tsunami struck L.A., here's a map showing where it would hit in Venice, Marina Del Rey and Santa Monica:

If it happened here ...; Credit: State of California

If it happened here …; Credit: State of California

Update No. 6: Three boats in Catalina Harbor sank as a result of surges, according to the National Weather Service. A section of pier was damaged, too.

Two boats at King Harbor in Hermosa Beach were pushed onto a dock, according to the NWS.

-With reporting from City News Service. Got news? Email us. Follow us on Twitter, too: @dennisjromero.

First posted at 1:06 a.m.

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