Tsunami and earthquake experts will be on the Olympic Peninsula for the week of April 9-12 for presentations and discussions on tsunami vertical evacuation structures, potential earthquake early warning systems and survival strategies.
Officials from the Washington Emergency Management Division will be joined by the National Weather Service, Washington Sea Grant, local emergency management officials and the Washington Geological Survey, part of the state Department of Natural Resources, in the 90-minute presentation. There also will be plenty of time for questions.
Public presentations will be:
• 10 a.m., Thursday, April 11, at the Makah Tribal Community Hall, 81 Third Ave., Neah Bay
• 6 p.m., Thursday, April 11, at Peninsula College in The Little Theater, 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd., Port Angeles
• 10 a.m., Friday, April 12, at the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal Center Gymnasium, 2851 Lower Elwha Road, Port Angeles
Other presentations will be in Aberdeen, Ocean Shores and on the Long Beach Peninsula.
This is the third year for what’s been nicknamed the “tsunami roadshow.”
“The goal this year is to make sure as many people know and understand what tsunami alerts are, how to receive them and what to do to survive a tsunami,” said Geologic Hazards program supervisor Maximilian Dixon with the Washington Emergency Management Division.
Washington currently has 72 All Hazard Alert Broadcast sirens along the coast with federal funding to add one at the Quinault Indian Nation and three in Skagit County later this year. But Dixon says the state needs at least 40 more to fill key gaps along the coast. The governor’s proposed budget this year would provide state funding for another 15 sirens.
Dixon also has been working with communities to apply for federal grant funds to build more tsunami vertical evacuation structures. Grant applications have been received for potential structures in Ocean Shores, Westport and Aberdeen.
There’s only one vertical evacuation structure in Washington located at Ocosta Elementary near Westport with a second one undergoing construction, courtesy of the Shoalwater Bay Tribe.
Meantime, all of the tsunami sirens recently underwent an upgrade and now feature voice messages in both English and Spanish with future upgrades planned to increase reliability. On March 20, the state teamed with federal officials to conduct a workshop with emergency managers around Puget Sound and the outer coast to look at tsunami response strategies. Wireless Emergency Alert Systems also have been implemented for the coastal areas to potentially send out messages to residents and visitors to head to high ground if a tsunami is coming.
“We’ve made improvements that will help us communicate to people all over the coast, but, remember, if you feel an earthquake, and you’re on the coast, drop, cover and hold on,” Dixon said. “Then as soon as it is safe to move, head immediately to high ground or inland. Don’t wait for that text message. Don’t wait for the sirens to go off.”
More information is at mil.wa.gov/tsunami. The public is encouraged to attend.