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Tsunami Preparedness Week aims to educate Alaskans about natural hazard

Published: Mar. 21, 2022 at 7:07 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska is no stranger to natural hazards, including tsunamis, and this week is Tsunami Preparedness Week.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy proclaimed the week of March 20-26 would be used to prepare Alaskans for the threat, according to the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

Alaska’s history includes big and destructive tsunamis, like the waves after the 9.2 Great Alaska Earthquake in 1964.

Now, Tsunami Preparedness Week coincides with its anniversary, March 27.

“We basically do this every single year to make sure that people understand the threats of where they live and are able to then prepare ahead of time for that threat,” Aviva Braun, Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said.

Braun said Alaska is very susceptible to tsunamis.

“We are unique here in that it could happen more frequently than elsewhere in the country,” she said.

People should pay attention to where they live and recreate, she said.

“Everybody who lives along a coastline should prepare. If you can see the ocean, you should prepare,” Braun said.

There are three natural tsunami indicators.

“One is a really strong or long earthquake. About 20 seconds, it’s time to start thinking that you might need to go to higher ground,” Braun said. “A second one is that you’re by the ocean and you see a large drop or something that’s just a little funky going on with the ocean. And the third is you hear a roaring sound coming from the ocean.”

The National Tsunami Warning Center said it’s important to act fast when there may be a tsunami on its way.

“Get away from the coast and then move up to high ground and then wait for further instructions,” said Dave Snider with the National Tsunami Warning Center in an interview last month about the Hunga Tonga volcanic eruption.

Braun said no two tsunamis are made equal.

“We really encourage people to have everything in their knowledge bank so that when they’re put into a situation that needs an emergency, quick reaction, you don’t even need to think about it,” Braun said.

It’s important to have multiple ways of getting an alert — like a cell phone, radio or TV.

To view a checklist of what should be put in an earthquake or tsunami go-bag, click here.

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