PUBLISHED: 5:30 PM on Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Officials to test Alaska Tsunami Warning System
NOAA's National Weather Service and Alaska's Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, in cooperation with the Alaska Broadcasters Association, will conduct a statewide test of the tsunami warning communications system on March 26 at 9:45 a.m., Alaska Daylight Time. The test will be broadcast on radio and television stations statewide. The text of the warning message will state that it is a test as opposed to an actual warning. Local emergency management offices have partnered with federal and state officials to conduct the test.

The test is part of Tsunami Awareness Week March 23 - 29, proclaimed by Gov. Sarah Palin. The week coincides with the anniversary of the Great Alaskan Earthquake - a devastating 9.2 magnitude earthquake that triggered deadly tsunamis in Alaska on Good Friday, March 27, 1964.

"Although it's been many years since our most devastating tsunami, as we witnessed in Indonesia, a tsunami can strike at any moment," Gov. Palin said. "We must continue to prepare and protect our coastal towns."

The communications test will involve NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards, the Emergency Alert System, and other state and local communication links. Radio listeners should hear the familiar alerting tone followed by an audio message describing the test, similar to the routine monthly tests of the Emergency Alert System.

"These tests are a standard part of NOAA's commitment to better engaging and informing the public, as we work to ensure the safety of all Alaskans," said Laura Furgione, director of NOAA's National Weather Service - Alaska Region. "We're confident the results will not only help protect Alaskans from future tsunamis, but also will serve as a testing model for other areas that could be impacted by these destructive waves."

"The State of Alaska has many communities that are vulnerable to tsunamis and benefit from the Tsunami Warning System," said John Madden, director of the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. "The Tsunami Warning System is an excellent example of federal and state agencies working with private entities to protect the lives of Alaskans."

The public can participate in the test by monitoring NOAA Weather Radio All-Hazards or via commercial radio, cable or local television for the Emergency Alert System message. Local emergency management may use the test to help raise awareness of the tsunami hazard. If there is excessive seismic activity on March 26, the test will be canceled.

Officials will evaluate the success of the test and correct any problems that are uncovered. To assist in this process, people in coastal areas should monitor their normal media sources at the time of the test and report afterwards via an Internet address given in the test message. Most importantly, people monitoring the test in coastal areas who DO NOT receive the test through commercial radio or weather radio should inform their local National Weather Service office.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources.

Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 70 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.