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Beachcombers to look for flotsam, jetsam from Japanese tsunami washing ashore on West Coast

  • FILE -In this file photo from Wednesday, June 6, 2012, a man looks at a 70-foot-long dock with Japanese lettering that washed ashore on Agate Beach in Newport, Ore. The West Coast is anticipating more debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami to wash ashore this winter. Scientists expect the bulk of the tsunami debris to end up in the Pacific Northwest. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

    FILE -In this file photo from Wednesday, June 6, 2012, a man looks at a 70-foot-long dock with Japanese lettering that washed ashore on Agate Beach in Newport, Ore. The West Coast is anticipating more debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami to wash ashore this winter. Scientists expect the bulk of the tsunami debris to end up in the Pacific Northwest. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE-In this July 2012 file photo provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), buoys, foam and other debris are strewn about a beach on Kayak Island, Alaska. The West Coast is anticipating more debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami to wash ashore this winter. Scientists expect the bulk of the tsunami debris to end up in the Pacific Northwest.  (AP Photo/NOAA, Jacek Maselko,File)

    FILE-In this July 2012 file photo provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), buoys, foam and other debris are strewn about a beach on Kayak Island, Alaska. The West Coast is anticipating more debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami to wash ashore this winter. Scientists expect the bulk of the tsunami debris to end up in the Pacific Northwest. (AP Photo/NOAA, Jacek Maselko,File)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this file photo taken by Canadian Peter Mark in the end of April, 2012 shows a Harley-Davidson motorbike that lies on a beach in Graham Island, western Canada. Japanese media say the motorcycle lost in last year's tsunami washed up on the island about 6,400 kilometers (4,000 miles) away. The rusted bike was originally found in a large white container where its owner had kept it. The container was later washed away, leaving the motorbike half-buried in the sand. The West Coast is anticipating more debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami to wash ashore this winter. Scientists expect the bulk of the tsunami debris to end up in the Pacific Northwest. (AP Photo/Kyodo News, Peter Mark,File) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO LICENSING IN CHINA, HONG KONG, JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA AND FRANCE

    In this file photo taken by Canadian Peter Mark in the end of April, 2012 shows a Harley-Davidson motorbike that lies on a beach in Graham Island, western Canada. Japanese media say the motorcycle lost in last year's tsunami washed up on the island about 6,400 kilometers (4,000 miles) away. The rusted bike was originally found in a large white container where its owner had kept it. The container was later washed away, leaving the motorbike half-buried in the sand. The West Coast is anticipating more debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami to wash ashore this winter. Scientists expect the bulk of the tsunami debris to end up in the Pacific Northwest. (AP Photo/Kyodo News, Peter Mark,File) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO LICENSING IN CHINA, HONG KONG, JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA AND FRANCE  (The Associated Press)

The West Coast this winter is bracing for more sightings of debris washed away by the Japan tsunami.

Last year's disaster swept about 5 million tons of debris into the Pacific. Most of that sank. No one knows how much tsunami debris is still adrift.

Flotsam has already washed up in the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii this year including small fishing boats, soccer balls and a huge dock. Like the past winter, scientists expect the bulk of the debris to end up once again in Alaska, Washington state, Oregon and British Columbia. Recent storm activity means debris could also reach the Northern California coastline.

Federal authorities have received more than 1,000 potential sightings of tsunami debris but have only been able to confirm 17 items.