A tsunami watch was issued last Friday evening at 9:14 pm, after an 8.2 magnitude earthquake was recorded at 8:23 pm in the Kuril Islands just north of Japan.
The watch was in effect from the northern tip of Vancouver Island to Alaska.
The Ministry of Public Safety says the provincial notification system worked well. Media, communities at risk and emergency officials were all notified of the watch, with more than 2,400 phone calls being made, as well as 435 emails and 900 faxes going out.
The watch was cancelled at 11:42 pm, when it was determined that there would be no impacts to coastal BC.
Types of Tsunami notifications
From the Provincial Emergency Program
When there’s seismic activity that could affect coastal communities, an information bulletin is issued by a warning centre in Palmer, Alaska. These bulletins are available to government agencies, the media and the general public through the WC/ATWC website and e-mail.
When the Provincial Emergency Program receives a notification, emergency management staff assess the info to determine if BC coastal areas may be threatened. The info is sent to local government emergency officials. The notification system quickly sends information where it’s needed: at the local authority level, and to the news media which can get it quickly to the public.
Tsunami Information Message
An awareness notification. Tsunami
information messages may be issued based only on preliminary seismic information without confirmation of a tsunami wave. They provide advance alert to areas that could be impacted.
Notification based on early seismic
information that provides advanced alerting to areas that could be impacted if a tsunami has been generated. When communities are issued a Watch, local emergency plans should be activated, and local authorities should prepare for possible evacuation in the event that their area is upgraded to a Warning.
This is the highest, most serious level of tsunami notification. Warnings are issued when there’s imminent threat of a tsunami or confirmation of a tsunami wave. When communities are issued a warning, local emergency plans should be activated and public safety actions taken. Such actions are likely to include the immediate evacuation of at-risk areas and restricting access to emergency response routes and coastal beaches. Warnings are updated as conditions change.
Advisories may be issued to populations within areas not currently in either Warning or Watch status when a tsunami warning has been issued for another region. An Advisory indicates that an area is either outside the current Warning and Watch regions, or that the tsunami poses no danger to that area. After issuing the Advisory monitoring of the event will continue. As conditions warrant, the Advisory will either be continued, upgraded to a Watch or Warning, or ended.
A cancellation is issued when a Warning or Watch message has been issued but where damaging waves have not been generated.
Tsunami All Clear
This is issued when a tsunami has been generated and the threat of further tsunami is over. It’s to advise stakeholders that the tsunami event is over and no further waves are expected.