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The National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have declared the week of March 20th through 26th Tsunami Awareness Week in Maine and New Hampshire, as well as in the remainder of the coastal United States.

...OVERVIEW...

Tsunami are one of nature's most deadly phenomena. While they are most common in the Pacific Ocean, they can occur along any coastline in the world. Although tsunami are usually generated by rapid movements of the ocean floor, tsunami or tsunami-like waves can also be caused by localized landslides and land slumps along the shoreline or even asteroids plunging into the ocean. Fast moving atmospheric pressure waves such as those caused by squall lines are also capable of generating tsunami-like waves.

The recent tsunami in the Pacific Ocean highlights the dangers associated with tsunami. While many lives were lost in the absolute devastation that occurred over portions of Japan, dangerous tsunami waves crossed the Pacific Ocean at speeds of about 500 mph to reach the West Coast of the United States. While the tsunami wave that hit the West Coast was only several feet high and arrived near the time of low tide, the powerful current created by the tsunami wave caused an estimated 40 million dollars in damage when it hit California. The tsunami sank 16 boats and damaged 47 in Crescent City Harbor where it also claimed one life.

While Maine and New Hampshire are somewhat sheltered by the Georges Bank and the continental shelf, waves similar to those that hit California are possible across the region. Particularly vulnerable are vessels, docks, and piers along the coast and in the channels. Structures along the immediate coast could also be damaged if a tsunami strikes near high tide.

While major Tsunami events are often associated with large earthquakes, smaller tsunami can strike without warning. Although many people assume the water along the coast will retreat prior to the first tsunami wave, this is not necessarily the case. In many cases, the first elevated wave will reach the shore before any water retreats.

Here are some important recommendations from the National Weather Service.

* Whether from a tsunami or flood, always respect the power of moving water.

If a Tsunami Warning or Advisory has been issued.

* Get out of the water and move to higher ground.
* Keep a safe distance from the water's edge.
* Monitor children closely.


The following are a series of local public information statements that contain additional information.

Monday...OVERVIEW
Tuesday...MECHANICS OF A TSUNAMI WAVE
Wednesday...THE GULF OF MAINE TSUNAMI THREAT
Thursday...STAYING SAFE WHEN A TSUNAMI THREATENS
Friday...OBTAINING MORE INFORMATION ON TSUNAMIS
 

updated 3/11
by ES