But long-distance tsunami was another chance to practice
In the most tsunami-prone city in the Lower 48, any sizable earthquake on the Pacific Rim can cause a bit of a stir.
At 5:12 p.m. local time Tuesday, an 8.0 earthquake shook the Solomon Islands, a sovereign nation of nearly a thousand islands east of Papua New Guinea. Soon after, emergency officials in Del Norte County were on watch.
Ultimately, Crescent City did experience a small series of surges just under 9 inches Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, but no damage occurred.
Any potential tsunami, however, provides an opportunity to practice Del Norte’s emergency response.
Cindy Henderson, Del Norte County emergency services manager, was called out of a spin exercise class by the Sheriff’s Office soon after the quake.
Henderson contacted local government and law enforcement officials to put everyone on alert.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center issued a statement at 5:22 p.m. Pacific time notifying the public that the agency was investigating the threat.
When the Crescent City Harbor Commission learned of the news, just as members were starting the public session of a regular meeting at 6:30 p.m., commissioners hopped on smart phones to search for tsunami information.
Harbormaster/CEO Richard Young took a phone call from Henderson mid-meeting to get an update on the situation.
At 7:21 p.m., the Tsunami Warning Center issued a notice that there was not a tsunami threat for the West Coast or Alaska, but Young stayed alert, remembering the damage inflicted on the harbor by a 2006 tsunami that was not predicted to cause damage.
Troy Nicolini, warning coordination meteorologist of NOAA’s National Weather Service in Eureka, informed Young and Henderson that he would stay up all night watching measurements on nearby buoys just in case.
Nothing more than a 9-inch surge materialized.
Panicked phone calls did not pour into 911 dispatch Tuesday evening, which pleased Henderson.
“People weren’t over-reacting. There wasn’t an influx of 911 calls — they just paid attention,” Henderson said. “With every little earthquake that happens, we are improving.”