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Just a drill: Tsunami warning systems to undergo testing in late March

By KTVA CBS 11 News 3:10 PM March 13, 2017

Tsunami Preparedness Week kicks off on March 26, and includes a test of the Alaska tsunami warning communications system on on March 29, according to state officials.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service, the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the Alaska Broadcasters Association will conduct a joint test of the system around 10:15 a.m. in the coastal areas of southern Alaska, according to a statement issued Monday.

Television and radio stations will be included in the test, along with the NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards, according to NOAA spokeswoman Audrey Rubel.

“This test will be conducted for portions of coastal communities in Southeast Alaska, the Kenai Peninsula, Kodiak, the Aleutians and Pribilofs,” Rubel wrote in the release. “People in Anchorage may see or hear that a tsunami warning has been issued for the Kenai Peninsula.”

Some of the broadcasts will state it is a test in the audio portion but not necessarily the on-screen written warnings, Rubel noted.

“To avoid confusion with an actual alert the test will be canceled if there is excessive seismic activity within 24 hours prior to the test,” she added.

Rubel stated the tsunami warning test is done during the same period each year as the anniversary of the 1964 earthquake and following tsunamis on March 27 that claimed the lives of more than 130 people in Alaska, Oregon and California. Most of those deaths were related to the tsunamis, not the earthquake.

“Officials promote tsunami safety and awareness and urge coastal residents and visitors to prepare themselves and their families for a tsunami,” she said.

The American Red Cross of Alaska says preparing for a tsunami should include identifying and becoming familiar with an evacuation route from home, work and other commonly visited places like stores or schools; packing a go-bag with supplies a family will need in case of an immediate evacuation; and an after-evacuation plan, like whether to stay with family or friends or seek help and temporary shelter from a local or state agency. Following a disaster, the American Red Cross recommends registering on its Safe and Well website, which helps concerned loved ones know where someone is located and their status.

To learn more about what causes tsunamis, how to know when one is coming and more, Alaskans are encouraged to visit the following websites:

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