A test of the tsunami warning communications system will take place Wednesday, giving residents their annual opportunity to make sure they're prepared for an emergency and officials a chance to make sure the system works right.
The test will occur between 11 a.m. and noon on the North Coast and is a cooperative effort between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the California Office of Emergency Services, the California Broadcasters Association and local emergency management officials.
Tsunami Preparedness Week runs until March 29.
”If they don't know already, residents should find out if they live or work in the tsunami zone,” National Weather Service meteorologist Troy Nicolini said. “On Wednesday, we will test our ability to interrupt TV and radio, outside sirens, notifications on social media and smartphones, reverse calling in Humboldt County that calls residents' landlines with a recording, activation of residents' NOAA weather radios and, if the weather permits, a plane notification with a clear audio message will fly along the coast of Del Norte and Humboldt counties.”
Humboldt County Sheriff's Office Emergency Services Coordinator Dan Larkin said there's not one pathway that works for everyone when notifying the public about a disaster.
”Our goal is to reach as many people as possible,” Larkin said.
It's critical that residents remember the Wednesday test is for the official tsunami warning that occurs when a disaster happens a distance away, Humboldt State University geology professor Lori Dengler said.
”It's important to emphasize that not all tsunamis come from far away,” Dengler said. “Our next one could come from our own neighborhood, and there will be no time for all of the notification systems being tested on Wednesday to come into play. In that case, the natural warning of a minute or more of ground shaking may be the only warning anyone gets.”
People monitoring the test in coastal areas who do not hear warning sirens are asked to inform their local National Weather Service office. To avoid confusion with an actual alert, the test will be canceled if there is excessive seismic activity 24 hours prior to the test.
Mendocino County will not participate because of the recent death of Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Deputy Ricky Del Fiorentino.
The public can provide feedback about the warning test online at weather.gov/test.
Jillian Singh can be reached at 441-0509 or Jsingh@times-standard.com