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How to prepare if 60-foot tsunami strikes Washington coast

Are you ready for a potential tsunami? Learn how you can get prepared.
Credit: Comstock
(Photo: Thinkstock)

Tsunami and earthquake experts visited two sites in Grays Harbor County Wednesday to help residents learn how they can be prepared for a potential disaster.

The event held at noon at the Ocosta Junior High was packed. It included participation in a drill at the school's recently built vertical evacuation structure, which is part of a school building. That structure, built to survive a magnitude 9 earthquake, is also built to survive a tsunami with students and residents. It's believed to be the only vertical evacuation structure built so far in North America, but others are in the planning stages.

The presentation is part of a six-stop tsunami road show on the Washington coast and Olympic Peninsula. It will feature officials from Washington Emergency Management, the Washington Geological Survey, the National Weather Service, the University of Washington/Sea Grant and Grays Harbor County Emergency Management.

Related: Prepare to be on your own in a major Pacific Northwest disaster

Washington coastal areas are particularly at risk from seismic activity in the Cascadia Subduction Zone. A study published in March found a 9.0 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Grays Harbor County could cause a 60-foot tsunami to inundate parts of Southwestern Washington.

Officials expected high interest in the event following the powerful earthquake off the coast of Alaska in January that triggered a tsunami watch in Washington.

“Given how events unfolded, we think it's even more imperative to help people understand the advantages of having a NOAA Weather Alert Radio, the difference in tsunami alert levels, near source vs distance source tsunamis and when the tsunami sirens will be activated,” Keily Yemm, tsunami program coordinator for the Washington Emergency Management Division, said in a statement.

Related: Tsunami threat forces tribe to move to higher ground

Related: First tsunami Survival Capsule deploys to Long Beach

There are 69 sirens in coastal communities across Washington state, including 23 in Grays Harbor.

Visit a presentation:

Wednesday, April 11

12 p.m. Ocosta Junior-Senior High School Library, 2580 Montesano Street, Westport.

6 p.m. Ocean Shores Convention Center, 120 West Chance a La Mer Northwest, Ocean Shores.

Friday, April 13

12 p.m. Peninsula College, J-47 Pirate Union Building, 1502 East Lauridsen Boulevard, Port Angeles.

6:30 p.m. Chimacum High School auditorium, 91 West Valley Road, Chimacum.

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