Saturday's tsunami scare brings another chance to remind Del Norters: If there is breaking news of local importance - and what could be more important than a possible tsunami? - it will be posted and updated when appropriate at triplicate.com.
Triplicate Assistant Editor Matt Durkee started monitoring developments shortly after a monster earthquake shook Chile late Friday. When the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a tsunami advisory for the West Coast, Durkee drove to the office and posted the news online at 3:20 a.m.
A few hours later, staff writer Adam Madison started talking to
local authorities and posting updates. By then, we knew the estimated
arrival time and severity of the waves coming toward Crescent City.
That allowed us to let people know that no significant inundation was
Of course you could have also gone straight to NOAA's Web site. The
advantage of checking The Triplicate and/or listening to local radio
stations is that you can find out what our authorities are saying -
without flooding emergency telephone lines.
Saturday's long-range tsunami forecast showed how far technology has
advanced since 1964, when Crescent City only had a couple hours of
less-specific warning before killer waves arrived from a quake in
Not that such forecasting is an exact science even now. NOAA issued
a tsunami warning Saturday for Hawaii, where destructive waves were
feared. As their anticipated 1 p.m. arrival approached, CNN showed live
scenes of the evacuated beaches, giving viewers the impression they
were about to witness something dramatic. I was pretty sure they'd be
It may have been the first time a tsunami's arrival was so
breathlessly anticipated on live television, hurricane-coverage-style.
But the sea stayed relatively calm - even if a big wave had arrived,
the rolling flood might have been underwhelming to a TV audience used
to graphic footage of catastrophes.
The scariest sights I saw were narrow roads along ocean bluffs jammed with parked and slow-moving cars. I hate traffic jams.
Unfortunately, such a well-publicized false alarm could make some
people less tsunami-wary. Even though NOAA correctly predicted only
tiny swells on the West Coast, the tidal wave buzz had curious people
flocking to the coast. Viewpoints along Pebble Beach were full.
Up in Seaside, Ore., police fought a losing battle to keep people
off the sand. Tsunami expert Patrick Corcoran of the Sea Grant program
was there, trying to make it a teachable moment. "These distant-event
tsunamis are really nothing, and we tend to overemphasize them,"
Corcoran said. "If people come away from this thinking tsunamis on the
Oregon Coast mean licking ice cream cones and strolling on the
promenade here, that's a terrible mistake."
Authorities didn't close the beaches in Crescent City, but it just
seemed like good role-modeling to stay off them with a tsunami advisory
The frustrated Corcoran may have forgotten about Del Norte's
devastation of '64 as he dismissed the danger of "distant-event
tsunamis," but he still made an important point.
Detailed tsunami forecasts come hours in advance only when the
earthquake happens far away. That's why experts say if you feel a
significant quake, you should head for high ground immediately.