NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, October 27th, 2012

Tsunami warning issued for Pacific Northwest as East Coast prepares for “Frankenstorm”

It’s turn­ing out to be a busy week­end for sci­en­tists at NOAA’s Nation­al Weath­er Ser­vice (NWS) and the U.S. Geo­log­i­cal Sur­vey (USGS).

The Nation­al Weath­er Ser­vice has spent the last few days track­ing Hur­ri­cane Sandy, which is now pro­ject­ed to make land­fall some­where along the mid-Atlantic, per­haps off the coast of Vir­ginia or Delaware.

Hur­ri­cane Sandy is cur­rent­ly off­shore of the Car­oli­nas. At present, it is pass­ing to the south­east of Charleston. It is not expect­ed to make land­fall there, but both states are see­ing storm surges.

Mete­o­rol­o­gists are con­cerned the hur­ri­cane could col­lide with an Arc­tic cold front head­ing west­ward, cre­at­ing a mam­moth “Franken­storm” that could cause flood­ing, pow­er out­ages, prop­er­ty dam­age, and risk to life and limb.

The U.S. Geo­log­i­cal Sur­vey is assist­ing with the hur­ri­cane track­ing effort by deploy­ing hun­dreds of sen­sors at key loca­tions.

“In the hours and days before Irene made its epic sweep up the east­ern seaboard last year, USGS deployed a record num­ber of storm-surge sen­sors that yield­ed impor­tant new infor­ma­tion on storm tides along some of the most pop­u­lat­ed coast­line in the Unit­ed States,” said USGS Direc­tor Mar­cia McNutt in a press release. “Now with Sandy we have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to test and improve pre­dic­tive mod­els of coastal zone impact based on what we pre­vi­ous­ly learned.”

The poten­tial for sig­nif­i­cant trav­el dis­rup­tions and prop­er­ty dam­age are already caus­ing TV net­works to describe the event as a “once in a gen­er­a­tion” storm. (Seems like we get one of those every year, but of course, the media loves to play up these kind of things. Storms are good for rat­ings.)

That’s not to say this storm is incon­se­quen­tial. To the con­trary: it could be very destruc­tive and any­one in its path should pre­pare for the worst. It’s bet­ter to be safe than sor­ry. To that end, many mid-Atlantic gov­er­nors are declar­ing states of emer­gency. Amtrak is can­celling trains and air­lines are prepar­ing to can­cel flights. South­west is offer­ing its pas­sen­gers the oppor­tu­ni­ty to rebook already, in advance of the stor­m’s antic­i­pat­ed arrival.

But the NWS, USGS and their part­ner agen­cies are now deal­ing with some­thing else: the after­math of a 7.7 mag­ni­tude earth­quake off the coast of British Colum­bia. The shal­low-focus quake hit at 8:04 PM Pacif­ic Time, one hun­dred and twen­ty-six miles south south­west of Prince Rupert, British Colum­bia, in the Hai­da Gwaii (Queen Char­lotte) Islands. The pre­cise loca­tion of the epi­cen­ter was list­ed as 52.769° N 131.927° W.

Sci­en­tists at USGS have pub­lished a pre­lim­i­nary assess­ment of the quake.

This earth­quake is like­ly asso­ci­at­ed with rel­a­tive motion across the Queen Char­lotte fault sys­tem off­shore of British Colum­bia, Cana­da. Stud­ies of tec­ton­ics in this region sug­gest plate motions are tak­en up by strike slip fault­ing par­al­lel to the plate bound­ary, accom­pa­nied by less­er amounts of thrust motion to accom­mo­date the oblique nature of the plate motion vec­tor between the two plates with respect to the ori­en­ta­tion of the main plate bound­ary fault struc­ture. This oblique com­po­nent of plate motion may involve either under­thrust­ing of the west­ern edge of the Pacif­ic Plate beneath North Amer­i­ca, or be tak­en up on crustal faults with­in the North Amer­i­ca plate. The Octo­ber 28th earth­quake is con­sis­tent with either sce­nario.

The Pacif­ic Tsuna­mi Warn­ing Cen­ter has issued a tsuna­mi warn­ing for British Colum­bia and Alas­ka, and a tsuna­mi advi­so­ry for Wash­ing­ton, Ore­gon, and north­ern Cal­i­for­nia. Here’s an expla­na­tion of the dif­fer­ence:

A TSUNAMI WARNING MEANS… ALL COASTAL RESIDENTS IN THE WARNING AREA WHO ARE NEAR THE BEACH OR IN LOW-LYING REGIONS SHOULD MOVE IMMEDIATELY INLAND TO HIGHER GROUND AND AWAY FROM ALL HARBORS AND INLETS INCLUDING THOSE SHELTERED DIRECTLY FROM THE SEA. THOSE FEELING THE EARTH SHAKE… SEEING UNUSUAL WAVE ACTION… OR THE WATER LEVEL RISING OR RECEDING MAY HAVE ONLY A FEW MINUTES BEFORE THE TSUNAMI ARRIVAL AND SHOULD MOVE IMMEDIATELY. HOMES AND SMALL BUILDINGS ARE NOT DESIGNED TO WITHSTAND TSUNAMI IMPACTS. DO NOT STAY IN THESE STRUCTURES.

ALL RESIDENTS WITHIN THE WARNED AREA SHOULD BE ALERT FOR INSTRUCTIONS BROADCAST FROM THEIR LOCAL CIVIL AUTHORITIES. A TSUNAMI HAS BEEN RECORDED.

A TSUNAMI ADVISORY MEANS THAT A TSUNAMI CAPABLE OF PRODUCING STRONG CURRENTS OR WAVES DANGEROUS TO PEOPLE IN OR VERY NEAR THE WATER IS EXPECTED. SIGNIFICANT WIDESPREAD INUNDATION IS NOT EXPECTED FOR AREAS UNDER AN ADVISORY. CURRENTS MAY BE HAZARDOUS TO SWIMMERS… BOATS… AND COASTAL STRUCTURES AND MAY CONTINUE FOR SEVERAL HOURS AFTER THE INITIAL WAVE ARRIVAL.

A tsuna­mi warn­ing has also been issued for Hawaii. Hawaii res­i­dents and vis­i­tors are urged to get off the beach and move to high­er ground. The first tsuna­mi wave is expect­ed to reach the islands at 10:28 PM local time (Hawaii is sev­er­al hours behind Pacif­ic Time).

Here is a graph­ic rep­re­sen­ta­tion of NOAA’s tsuna­mi prop­a­ga­tion fore­cast:

Tsunami Propagation Forecast

Tsuna­mi Prop­a­ga­tion Fore­cast pre­pared by the Nation­al Atmos­pher­ic and Ocean­ic Admin­is­tra­tion (NOAA).

As we approach Elec­tion Day, these events are a reminder that our fed­er­al gov­ern­ment plays a cru­cial role in emer­gency pre­pared­ness. Were it not for agen­cies like the Nation­al Weath­er Ser­vice, Nation­al Hur­ri­cane Cen­ter, and the U.S. Geo­log­i­cal Sur­vey, we would not be in a posi­tion to safe­guard lives and min­i­mize dam­age. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the bud­get pro­posed by Mitt Rom­ney’s run­ning mate, Paul Ryan, would slash fund­ing for agen­cies like NOAA’s Nation­al Weath­er Ser­vice.

That’s some­thing all Amer­i­cans should keep in mind when head­ing to the polls or sit­ting down at the kitchen table to vote.

Adjacent posts

  • Enjoyed what you just read? Make a donation


    Thank you for read­ing The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate, the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute’s jour­nal of world, nation­al, and local pol­i­tics.

    Found­ed in March of 2004, The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate has been help­ing peo­ple through­out the Pacif­ic North­west and beyond make sense of cur­rent events with rig­or­ous analy­sis and thought-pro­vok­ing com­men­tary for more than fif­teen years. The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate is fund­ed by read­ers like you and trust­ed spon­sors. We don’t run ads or pub­lish con­tent in exchange for mon­ey.

    Help us keep The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate edi­to­ri­al­ly inde­pen­dent and freely avail­able to all by becom­ing a mem­ber of the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute today. Or make a dona­tion to sus­tain our essen­tial research and advo­ca­cy jour­nal­ism.

    Your con­tri­bu­tion will allow us to con­tin­ue bring­ing you fea­tures like Last Week In Con­gress, live cov­er­age of events like Net­roots Nation or the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion, and reviews of books and doc­u­men­tary films.

    Become an NPI mem­ber Make a one-time dona­tion

4 Comments

  1. It’s a shame you are using your site to pro­mote a pres­i­dent who has weak­en our coun­try and has near­ly destroyed it. A pres­i­dent who refused to go the aid of an Amer­i­can Ambas­sador. My bal­lot is in and my vote is for Mitt Rom­ney and Paul Ryan!!! My friends and fam­i­ly all feel the same!

    # by Gloria L. :: October 28th, 2012 at 1:28 AM
    • Glo­ria, NPI does not endorse can­di­dates for pub­lic office. We do cov­er par­ty pol­i­tics and elec­tions from a pro­gres­sive per­spec­tive, but we only take posi­tions on bal­lot mea­sures.

      We’ll have to agree to dis­agree about Pres­i­dent Oba­ma’s record. We’re not in agree­ment with every deci­sion Barack Oba­ma has made as pres­i­dent. But he has done many good things for this coun­try. He rebuilt bridges that the Bush admin­is­tra­tion burned with their thought­less, neo­con­ser­v­a­tive for­eign pol­i­cy.

      It’s unclear to us who Mitt Rom­ney is or what he believes. He says some­thing dif­fer­ent every week. And that’s trou­bling. Amer­i­ca needs prin­ci­pled lead­er­ship, not fair-weath­er politi­cians.

      # by Andrew :: October 28th, 2012 at 1:47 AM
  2. Char­li Dou­glas shared a link.

    6 hours ago

    .
    Spend just a minute “read­ing” — can’t hurt at this point since it appears those who have made up their mind ~ have done so with a one-sided view with­out ben­e­fit of “truth” ~ they may just want to “humor” us for a minute 😉

    thinkprogress.org

    5 Facts About The Mass­a­chu­setts Econ­o­my Under Mitt Rom­ney

    By Travis Wal­dron on Jun 4, 2012 at 9:35 am

    Repub­li­can Mitt Romney’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign whipped out a new num­ber over the week­end to dis­pute fed­er­al gov­ern­ment data that ranked Mass­a­chu­setts 47th in job cre­ation dur­ing Romney’s time as gov­er­nor there. Three cam­paign sur­ro­gates used the Sun­day morn­ing news cir­cuit to claim that the state wa…

    # by CharliD :: October 28th, 2012 at 2:43 PM
  3. @Gloria

    Why would you even state your stance if that’s what you are accus­ing them of doing and being wrong? Kind of con­tra­dict­ing your rea­son for chim­ing in right? I agree with NPI and stand with Oba­ma if were all being, ltruth­ful.”

    # by Anthony :: October 29th, 2012 at 12:41 PM