What to do if a tsunami warning is issued in our area

This is the evacuation site in Samoa for local residents. | Photo by Karina Ramos Villalobos

It is important to know if you live or work in a tsunami zone because that will determine how you react to a warning.

“It’s a very different response, especially if you’re in a place here like Samoa,” said Ryan Aylward, the Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the National Weather Service Eureka. “When you feel that earthquake, it’s your warning.”

Having a go-bag filled with a first aid kit, comfortable clothes, snacks, and water is essential if you reside or work in a tsunami zone. The safest place during a tsunami is outside the zone but if you can’t get there, higher ground is where you want to go.

“There are places where you have to go for last resort in this case it’s right here in Samoa,” Alyward said. “There are high dunes that you can go to to stay safe. Manila has the same sort of setup. Yes, you’d have water all around you, but you’d be in a safe place that’s above the zone.”

If an earthquake lasts for several minutes that could be a sign it’ll produce a tsunami. There is also a certain type of earthquake that could cause a deadly tidal wave.

“Subduction zone area or thrust earthquake where the ground actually lifts up and that has to happen under the water,” Alyward said. “So here we have the Cascadia subduction zone off the coast and if that fault ruptures, there’s a very high likelihood that we’ll have a tsunami along our coastline.”

Remember, if a tsunami warning is issued seek your evacuation site or seek a high point altitude location for safety, and if you are away from a tsunami zone stay put. Alyward says a good practice is to “drill” your tsunami response when you feel an earthquake, even if there’s no tsunami warning.

This is tsunami preparedness week. There will be a tsunami communications test this Wednesday at 11 a.m. Click this link to find out if you live or work in a tsunami zone.

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