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Tsunami risk highlighted after Alaska 8.2 earthquake

Tsunami risk highlighted after Alaska 8.2 earthquake

An 8.2 earthquake in the middle of the night in Alaska highlights the threat a distant tsunami could have on the Washington coastline and why Washington residents should prepare for a potential tsunami risk.

There is no tsunami warning in place at this time for our state or Alaska. However, had a Tsunami Warning been issued for the Washington coastline, NOAA Weather Radios would have gone off in people’s homes, waking them up and letting them know about the danger, giving them time to prepare and find out what was going on. This event emphasizes the importance of Washington coastal residents and visitors knowing how they will receive official information in future tsunami danger scenarios.

Washington Emergency Management Division staff were in consistent contact with the U.S. National Tsunami Warning Center during this event.

The Washington Emergency Management Division hosts a 24/7 Alert & Warning Center, with trained individuals that would be able to trigger the state’s tsunami siren network. As of this summer, there are now 122 sirens on the Washington coast, which are run and maintained by the state. This includes 50 new ones, which were recently installed.

The All-Hazard Alert Broadcast (AHAB) tsunami sirens are intended to act as an outdoor tsunami alerting method for people and communities on or near the beach who may not otherwise have access to other official alerting methods via radio, TV or their smartphones. This is especially helpful for “distant” tsunami events from places like Alaska, Japan or Southeast Asia. The tsunami sirens are NOT meant to be heard inside. Residents should invest in NOAA Weather Radios to hear tsunami alerts while inside their homes and sign up for other local alerting methods. Find your local alerting system at

By coincidence, on Wednesday, more than 140 stakeholders attended a seminar and workshop exercise hosted by our agency looking at response to tsunami Alert in Washington state. The event took place with assistance from federal, state, tribal and local government leaders, as well as emergency management, the private sector and other key coastal partners discussing tsunami alerting and response.

“Just like we practiced our own plans, I hope residents who live or visit the Washington coast will look at their own situation, find out where their tsunami hazard zones are and invest in a NOAA Weather Radio so even if an earthquake happens in the middle of the night, they will get the life-saving information they need to get to safety,” said Maximilian Dixon, the geologic hazards supervisor for the state Emergency Management Division. “Fortunately, this was just practice, but a middle-of-the-night tsunami is always a wake-up call.”

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