The Great Wave by Hokusai
This week the United States has been recognizing National Tsunami Week, an awareness campaign by NOAA, the USGS, FEMA, and a whole host of other emergency response agencies to ensure that the American public is aware of the tsunami hazard facing our coasts, and that we know what to do about it.
The bottom line is that we face threats on all fronts, although they’re greatest along the Pacific shore. Local megaquakes in the Pacific Northwest will one day wash torrents of water ashore in Washington, Oregon, and Northern California. More frequently than that (we have two examples from this decade alone), giant quakes elsewhere around the Pacific will send tsunamis racing across the ocean to flood our shorelines and swirl around our harbors. Large quakes in the Caribbean and landslides out in the Atlantic pose a tsunami threat to our Gulf and Atlantic coasts.
Fortunately we’re familiar with this risk because we’ve seen the effects of even 1-meter-high tsunamis on our coastline:
NOAA maintains several tsunami warning centers (including Pacific and West Coast/Alaska), and we’re ever striving to improve our detection capabilities as well as inform the public.
Take the opportunity to inform yourself this week, and “be Tsunami Ready!” There are tons of resources, listed below.
Tsunami Awareness Week from the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program:
What to do to protect yourself:
Tons of tsunami resources from California
USGS report on “Community Exposure to Tsunami Hazards” [pdf document]
NOAA’s Center for Tsunami Research has a ton of cool models and animations (their YouTube channel is chock full, at YouTube.com/noaapmel) that represent the best measurements and calculations from actual tsunami events that have happened. One recently released model shows the best estimate of what happened during the Good Friday earthquake of 1964 in Alaska. The tsunami from that quake ravaged the U.S. coastline in Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, and California and caused fatalities. Get informed! These things happen.