Tsunami events set for Mon. and Wed.

By Adam Spencer, The Triplicate March 25, 2013 05:02 pm

Tsunami experts will hold a presentation Monday on how Crescent City can be ready when — not if — a tsunami strikes again, and on Wednesday tsunami warning systems will be tested on the entire North Coast.

It’s all part of National Tsunami Preparedness Week, which begins Sunday.

“Learning from the Past to Protect the Future: Earthquakes and Tsunamis” will be presented at 6 p.m. in the Crescent Fire Protection District, 255 W. Washington Blvd.

The meeting, presented by tsunami and earthquake experts Lori Dengler, professor of geology at Humboldt State University, and Troy Nicolini, National Weather Service, will focus on “what we have learned from past events and how we can apply that information to make sure Crescent City will survive the next earthquake or tsunami,” Nicolini said.

The meeting will be a great opportunity to ask questions about tsunamis and earthquakes in Crescent City and Del Norte County, Nicolini said.

Dengler and Nicolini have repeatedly visited areas around the world like Chile and Japan right after they have endured a seismic event to analyze how the communities respond.

“We went down to Chile to find out what decisions people made and how those decisions helped or got people in trouble,” Nicolini said. “One thing we learned is tsunamis can really trick people. They can seem like they are winding down or ready to almost stop, then a period of time later, a new big wave comes.”

Nicolini pointed out that a false sense of “the worst is over” is what ended up killing several people in the devastating tsunami that hit Crescent City in 1964. The 49th anniversary of that event will be Thursday.

During the March 2011 tsunami, Crescent City residents reacted well and “everyone should feel really proud,” Nicolini said. 

Attendees should not expect to hear a lot of doom and gloom, as the goal is to “make people safer and more assured about tsunamis and earthquakes than before they came,” Nicolini said.

After a previous presentation Nicolini, received an email from an attendant echoing that sentiment:

“I’ve lived in Crescent City all my life, with a few years away here and there, and have never felt quite as reassured and prepared as I did after your class last night.”

Communications test

When you hear the tsunami sirens at 11 a.m. Wednesday, remember it’s a drill.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the California Emergency Management Agency will conduct a test of tsunami warning communication systems from 11 a.m. to noon  in Del Norte, Humboldt and Mendocino counties.

Local television and radio stations will broadcast emergency test messages.

Evacuation drills are not scheduled for Del Norte County this year.

To avoid confusion, the test will be canceled if there is excessive seismic activity 24 hours prior to the test.

During National Tsunami Preparedness Week from Sunday through next Saturday, emergency managers encourage coastal residents to review information on what to do in the event of a tsunami. 

“NOAA’s West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center, website wcatwc.arh.noaa.gov, offers complete information, including the current status of tsunami watches, warnings and advisories,” according to a press release.

“The time to prepare is before a tsunami, not after it,” Nicolini said.

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