Tsunami Warning False Alarm

Seward City News has confirmed that this morning’s tsunami warning was a false alarm. We received the following from the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management:



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“The tsunami sirens located in Seward, Homer, Port Graham, Nanwalek and Seldovia were activated earlier this morning. We have confirmed that the activation of tsunami sirens was in error. The National Weather Service was replacing equipment and a live code was sent instead of the test code. There is no tsunami danger.”

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12 Comments

  1. This false alarm highlighted several continuing and new flaws in the warning system:
    Assuming it was a real tsunami warning, I tuned to my “local” radio station as instructed. Actually, because we don’t have a local radio station, I checked all the radio stations. Nothing.

    There was nothing on the internet.

    “Tune to your local radio station” is a useless piece of information at a critical time. Why doesn’t the “voice” tell us exactly what happened? Such as a tsunami was generated in ______ at _______ and the anticipated arrival is _________.” Forget about the “local radio station.”

    Our lives were disrupted as emergency plans went into effect and hopefully people evacuated the low-lying areas, etc. The lack of information continued. Many long minutes passed until the local “voice” (Fire Chief?) got on the loudspeaker. But his message cut out continually. Only because he repeated it several times, could one piece together one complete message. That needs to be fixed too.

    False alarms should never occur in the first place. THAT really needs to be fixed.

    When the real deal hits, are we going to be complacent because of such a flawed system? Right now, I think there’s a high probability of “yawn.”

    Carol Griswold

  2. I am with Carol here and I have mentioned this before. I understand false alarms can be generated but, the whole part about tune into the local radio station is completely useless! I did not hear the second announcement very well but assumed it was the all clear.

    Only because I am on high ground did I take the time to search whether there was a recent earthquake or if NOAA had anything listed (they did have a test listed so assumed that what where the miscommunication came in.)

    This system really needs to be fixed for it to be effective!!

  3. Thank you SCN for your quick posting that this was a false alarm!! Lots of places were called to get confirmation, such as the police department and the harbor masters office. No one could give that info. So, we do need better communications in place for the folks that should be ‘In the Know’. The message that comes out on the warning system in Seward is a recorded msg, not live. The ‘button’ pushed was not here in Seward, see the SCN updated info.

  4. Steven T. Fink says:

    Seward does have a local radio station: http://sewardcitynews.com/2013/05/local-radio-begins-broadcasting/

    It is my preferred station. It broadcasts BBC News, NWS weather report’s, and plays some great music. I went there during this morning’s event and it was normal broadcasting as were the other FM station’s.

  5. ericlandenburger says:

    I agree with Carol and Trish. A few years ago there was a legitimate alarm, but no information was forthcoming from the few radio stations on my truck radio. I next went on line and learned that there was no danger of a tsunami. My wife called the police dispatcher to confirm this. “tuning in to your local radio station” is useless!

  6. Steve, the local radio station that we do have, is not responsive. The station should have been alerting listeners that the alarm was false. Is that station even part of the emergency broadcast system? Another flaw to be corrected.

    Thanks,
    Carol

  7. Carol, Trish, and Eric have very valid concerns.
    I was in the harbor when the alarm sounded. I was able to move one school bus to higher ground, come back for the second, before an all clear announcement was made.
    During the event, visitors were leaving the harbor as quickly as possible. As I was in a vehicle, I had no access to internet to verify the legitimacy of the warning. And I wouldn’t verify, I want to trust the system. And as others did, I tried to find a radio station broadcasting the alert…to no avail.
    I was happy to see folks taking the warning seriously. Let’s now work to fix the radio snafu and the locally generated announcements.

  8. Even if us locals know what radio station to tune to, the visitors would not have a clue. Valid issues spoken here. How do we get that fixed?

  9. “Tune into your local radio station for official news and information”. This is a very archaic term that should be replaced. Radio stations are automated. There is no one there to answer the phone, much less air any timely news or information.

    You will have about as much luck finding a full service gas station attendant as you will an on air live DJ.

  10. Im Glad we all agree that this is an issue that needs to be fixed. This is not the first time we have had a false alarm and its not the first time the Alaska NWS has fallen asleep at the switch.

    • I can only imagine the panic this could have caused if it were the 4th of july. Any time the NWS feels the need to send a test to the system the public needs to be notified that there could be a false alarm. This is an important system that when working properly could save many lives. If a large earthquake happens on our side of the Pacific we only have minutes to respond. not everyone has a computer or smart phone. most people dont know that your smartphone has the ability to receive government warnings. (its in your settings on an I phone) for those that arent near a radio or electronic device we all need to be notified. Why not let the AEIC (Alaska Earthquake info Center) notify our police dispatch and let them push the button?

  11. The KPB Borough’s Emergency Manager is working to get the announcement changed/fixed–at our assembly meeting yesterday this was addressed, and I let them know how unacceptable this is, still!! I’ll keep at this. I mentioned how frightening this is to those of us who were here in 1964 as well. I got lots of calls, and although I can call and check if it’s legit, that shouldn’t be necessary. If there’s a real warning, and the siren goes off, we should prepare, and if it’s called off or if it’s coming, there should be a real person telling us that right away. I know the radio station is preparing to tap into the emergency system–

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