Tsunami—Preparing for a Vague and Rare Event

by Stephen K. Rinard, Natl Weather Service Forecast, Office, Seattle, WA, USA,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastal Zone '87


A tsunami (tidal wave) to an earth scientist is a vague event - to others, it is a Hollywood enhanced and misunderstood event. These attitudes are heightened by the fact that tsunamis occur infrequently. Educating state, county and local officials to a threat that is misunderstood, hardly forecastable and perhaps will not occur during their tenure is not an easy task. Educating the public, many of whom visit the coast only occasionally, is equally difficult. But to ignore or misinterpret the tsunami threat is a disservice to all. As part of the National Weather Service tsunami warning program, an ongoing tsunami awareness effort along the Pacific Northwest Coast has been underway for several years. This program was tested in May, 1986 when a tsunami warning was issued for the U. S. West Coast. Education goals, procedures and experiences are described.

Subject Headings: Tsunamis | Coastal engineering | Engineering education | Disaster warning systems | Public health and safety | Water waves | Ocean waves | Tides | Pacific Northwest | United States

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