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7.8 The earthquake off the Alaska Peninsula drives tsunami warning and evacuation the National

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Early Wednesday night a tsunami warning from huge swathes of coastal Alaska was triggered by a 7.8-magnitude earthquake off Alaska Peninsula Tuesday night after officials decided that the tsunami was no longer a threat.

The tsunami warning originally extended from the Alaska Peninsula to Kodiak Island and the West Kenai Peninsula, prompting Alaskans to flee to higher areas in societies such as Kodiak, Sand Point, Onalaska and Homer.

Although some people in Anchorage received warning tsunami warnings, the Anchorage area was not at risk, said Louise Food, coordinator of meteorology coordination with the National Weather Service.

“The tsunami resulted from this event, but is no longer a threat. Some areas may continue to see small changes in sea level,” the National Tsunami Warning Center said in its notice to cancel the tsunami warning.

The center also urged people not to return to the danger areas until local officials say it is safe.

“Our procedures put us on guard even if we don’t measure the tsunami – we mean it exists so we know better,” James Gridley, director of the National Center for Tsunami Warning in Palmer, said in an interview early on Wednesday.

The earthquake struck at 10:12 pm in Alaska Delight Time on Tuesday, about 75 miles south of Czechia, at a depth of about 17 miles, and it was reported that she felt far from Anchorage, according to the US Geological Survey.

“This is a large earthquake,” said Michael West, an earthquake expert at the Alaskan Seismic Center.

He said that the Tuesday night earthquake was “nearly 15 times more energy than it was launched in the Anchorage 2018 earthquake.” But since it happened outside, there has been much less shaking recorded, and West said earthquake center officials had not expected damage from the vibration.

West said the type of earthquake that occurred on Tuesday evening was typical of the southern coast of Alaska. West said it was the same technique – “more or less” – like the Great Alaskan earthquake of 1964.

“This is the type of earthquake that can produce very tsunamis,” West said.

In Kodiak, the siren sounded from the tsunami on Tuesday night and directed residents to high ground. Kodiak High School opened its doors to evacuees, as did the local Catholic school. At the Kodiak Coast Guard base, residents were directed to head to Aviation Hill, the high ground overlooking the nearby airport. The local public radio station reminded the evacuees to carry the masks.

“We have a high school full of people. I have been losing masks since the first sirens sounded,” said Larry Lido, director of the Kodiak School District. “Everything is as quiet as possible,” he said. “We have probably 300 or 400 people wearing masks.”

In the Cudillac police station, where local officials set up the emergency operations center, officer Francis de la Fuente said they had not seen a wave by 12:15 am, “We are waiting for the tsunami warning center.”

At Kodiak High School, Lidox said that sirens and evacuation are not something unusual for someone who grew up in Kodiak.

“I have been doing this since I was a little boy,” he said. “Old news.”

Gridley of the National Tsunami Warning Center said that in the first minutes of a seismic event, there are usually not enough ambient sensors to measure the tsunami wave. He said that you should give her time to reach the nearby sensors, but if there is a wave, the beaches and beaches may be affected before that.

“We have to assume the worst scenario,” Gridley said. “The safest situation is to move people.” He said it is not like a hurricane forming in the ocean, just days away from the beach – they should go straight to a warning.

On Tuesday, the center issued its tsunami warning and kept the warning in place after seeing a 25 cm wave, or nearly 10 inches, at Sand Point. Gridley said that center officials knew that the tsunami would not be massive, but that they had to be sure and wait for the entire wave cycle.

“If we just start seeing a little bump, then we don’t know whether this bump will get much bigger, or if that is,” Gridley said. After about an hour and a half Tuesday, Gridley said, tsunami warnings for certain areas outside the warning areas were canceled.

“We just had to wait long enough to see if we were going to see more of the wave evolving or not,” Gridley said. “The answer was no.”

The center canceled the tsunami warning, which grew to extend from the Aleutan Islands to the west of Kenai, less than two hours after its initial warning was issued.

City director Unalaska Erin Reinders said that the city activated the Emergency Operations Center on Tuesday evening and informed the community of evacuating areas less than 50 feet to high ground, before fully issuing it.

“We were in a (city) council meeting and we started to feel it was shaking, and by the time I got home from the council meeting, the warnings were going and I had to go back,” said Reynders.

Brenda Ahlberg, the information officer for the Kenai Peninsula Emergency Management Office said at 11:45 pm that the Cachimac Bay communities including Nanwalik, Port Graham, Seldovia, Homer and more inland areas up to the Fox River mud area are under a tsunami warning . Tuesday. Ahlberg said that people in those areas were ordered to vacate and go to a higher location.

“This is an evolving situation and we are closely monitoring information received from the country and the federal agencies with which we are cooperating,” Ahlberg said before canceling a tsunami warning. “So at this juncture, I’m not putting a timestamp on it.”

(Editors: An optional start)

In Homer, sirens sounded late Tuesday night, alerting residents to the threat of a tsunami.

According to Deputy Homer, Vice City and Deputy Public Information Officer Rachel Tossi, Homer residents were told to evacuate areas less than 50 feet away, and the city stood as an emergency operations center for the Homer Firefighter Administration. Homer High School was created as a gathering point and emergency shelter, Tussey said.

At Sand Point, people in the slums were evacuated to school. Jordan Keeler, city director in Anchorage, said they had waited there for the first expected wave to arrive at around 11:15 pm.

“The first wave did not materialize, which is great,” said Keeler, who has been in close contact with public safety staff at Sand Point since the earthquake.

Keeler said the earthquake felt at Sand Point, but there were no reports of major structural damage. Keeler said that the commercial fishing opener, which starts at six o’clock on Wednesday morning, means that many of Sand Point’s main fishing fleet left the port to fishing grounds.

Until 11:45 p.m., people gathered in school “along the lines of the wait pattern” waiting for aftershocks or “God forbid, any other changes in the water level.” Sand Point issued a clear statement by 12:30 am

The National Tsunami Warning Center Tuesday evening described a variety of possible effects of a tsunami that could extend hours or days after the first wave arrives, including: frequent floods in coastal areas. Water filled with debris that can injure people or weaken structures; Wave and unusual activity that could affect coastlines facing in different directions.

“The shoreline’s ebb or retreat, unusual waves and sounds, and strong currents are signs of a tsunami,” the center said. “A tsunami may appear with water rapidly moving into the sea, or a gentle high tide like a flood with no breaking wave, like a series of broken waves, or a frothy wall of water.”

(Anchorage Daily News staff Morgan Krakow, James Brooks, Michelle Theriault Boots and Marc Lester contributed.

(C) 2020 Alaska Dispatch News (Anchorage, Alaska)

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