Thursday, November 01, 2012

Dealing With Tsunami Warnings

Last Saturday night had a bit of excitement, here on the coast. An earthquake off the coast of Haida Gwaii meant that there was a tsunami warning put out for nearby shores, and a tsunami watch for places that are not directly at risk.
A tsunami watch is not a bad thing for we who live along the shoreline... bit like a fire drill that you know is a drill. Hang onto your patience. Assess what you would do if the situation upgraded to a warning of an actual tsunami approaching. Good to know you're prepared. Betcha my kayak would float away. When a tsunami warning comes through, though, it's time to evacuate.
The Saturday earthquake and small tsunami revealed that all is not well for the Emergency Info BC service, nor for EarthquakesCanada website, nor the American NOAA weather warnings website. As reported on The Tyee website, the tsunami warning wasn't shared as well as it should have. Social media saw people sharing the little they knew very enthusiastically.
The result of the not sharing and sharing was that people in some communities on Vancouver Island evacuated their tsunami danger zones even though soon afterward the word came through that their locations were not at risk for a dangerous wave. For most of these communities, an evacuation means gathering at a convenient building at the top of a hill (sometimes adjourning to a pub outside the tsunami danger zone). I'm glad to say that the general attitude seems to be that people would prefer to chat with their neighbours at the high school or the pub for an hour on top of the local hill, instead of waiting to see if a wave comes up the inlet.
At the Beach House, Bernie and I are located at sea level, about 300 yards/metres from the beach. Since the   landlady's house is built on wetlands, it would probably slump during an earthquake. During the latest local tremor, Bernie reported that he felt the house shimmy in a sick-making way. As well, a tsunami wouldn't have to be very high to flood our low-lying neighbourhood. The local emergency preparedness team suggests that in Victoria, people shouldn't wait for official warnings about tsunamis after earthquakes. "If it's hard to stand, go to high land," is the local rule. And yes, we keep an emergency bag packed. Even a kayak dunk bag is enough of an emergency bag to carry at a moment like that!

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
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