Tsunami Watch

By , March 11, 2011

This morning at 5:30 I stepped into the outhouse and, as I always do, switched on the weather radio. Shortly, I heard that a tsunami warning had been issued for the outer communities of Southeast Alaska, including Craig, Elfin Cove, Sitka, and Yakutat. The warning estimated that if a tidal wave hit Sitka, it would likely have occurred around 4:30, an hour before I learned of it.

Back at the house, I learned the cause: a record earthquake in Japan.

Monitoring the news, we eventually heard that a tsunami watch had been issued for our area. It warned mostly of unusual currents or tidal action. Since we’re not crossing the bay today, or going down to the beach, which is still far too icy to be safe, the term, “tsunami watch” takes on a different meaning. I’m sitting my place at the table with a hot drink and Mozart on the stereo, keeping an eye on Lynn Canal below my window. The wind’s hard from the north still, driving 7-8 foot seas south. I’m imagining a wave of about the same size passing northward. If I blink, I may miss it.

This is not to make light of tsunamis in any way. I just feel pretty safe where we are, but very curious about what, if anything, we might see.

Someday it might be different. One of the very few drawbacks of being friends with a local couple who are both geologists is that we learn things not many people seem to be aware of. For instance, there’s a good sized fault running right down Mud Bay! Our cabin has survived earthquakes here for 30 years, and hopefully will survive them for many years to come. It’s worth being aware of, but not worth worrying about.

I reminisce here about tsunami warnings I’ve known growing up in Alaska.

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